Children are being poisoned by a "junk culture" of processed food, computer games and over-competitive education, an influential group of British authors and experts warned on Tuesday.
In an open letter to the Daily Telegraph, a popular UK newspaper, 110 teachers, psychologists and children's authors — including the internationally acclaimed Philip Pullman and Penelope Leach, a leading childcare expert — called on the British government to act now to prevent childhood being killed off altogether.
What kids need
Junk culture is also spreading to other parts of the world including in India where children are becoming increasingly dependent on junk food, computer games and sedentary lifestyles.
Forced "to act and dress like mini-adults", children are becoming depressed and experiencing growing levels of behavioural and developmental problems, they said. "Since children's brains are still developing, they cannot adjust as full-grown adults can, to the effects of ever more rapid technological and cultural change," the letter said.
"They need what developing human beings have always needed, including real food (as opposed to processed "junk"), real play (as opposed to sedentary, screen-based entertainment), first hand experience of the world they live in and regular interaction with the real-life significant adults in their lives."
The letter was circulated by Sue Palmer, an ex-head teacher and author of a book entitled Toxic Childhood, and Dr Richard House, a senior lecturer at the Research Centre for Therapeutic Education at Roehampton University in London.