TOO much television makes children fat, ill, lazy, bored, depressed and violent. The more research that's done, the more alarming the results. The latest research makes a direct link between television watching in childhood and increased risks of obesity and diabetes in adulthood. Yet, astonishingly, new figures say that children now spend around 53 hours a week watching television or playing computer games.

Fifty-three hours? That's more than seven hours a day. Which doesn't leave much room for much else - such as playing, reading, developing an imagination, getting on with people, exploring the world, washing up, doing homework.

Parents have told the authors of a new book, The Media Diet for Kids, which aims to tackle the problem, that they find it very difficult to control children's viewing.

Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic.

Large numbers of toddlers and small children now have their own televisions in their bedrooms. Have you ever seen a two-year-old flashing his credit card at the checkout in Currys? Exactly. If you don't want your children to watch too much TV, then don't buy them one of their own. Seems simple to me.

God made parents bigger than children so that parents could say "no". It's what our job is. True, once your children tower over you the balance of power shifts a bit, but maybe by then you've got some sort of ground rules established.

In reasonable doses - like so many other things - television is great, whether you're being educated or just sitting slumped in front of it when you need to relax and empty your brain. But seven hours a day? No. Two hours a day is considered a reasonable maximum and, to be honest, even that seems an awful big chunk of a small life.

Meanwhile, while TV and computer usage soars, so does bad behaviour in schools as children become more uncontrollable. So too does the use of drugs to control children's behaviour.

Strange how we can get so worked up about silly supermodels snorting cocaine, while ignoring the thousands of children regularly dosed by the "chemical cosh".

Years ago when TV started out and there was only one channel, the screens would go blank in the early evening. Nothing. It was the toddlers' teatime truce and was designed to help parents get young children fed, bathed and into bed.

We don't want to go back that far. But there is life without television. Try it. Even more importantly, get your children to try it.

A UN study claims that Scotland is the most violent country in Europe. In the peace and quiet of the Outer Hebrides it was hard to believe that - until the last night. Then, once again, beneath our hotel window in Stornoway we heard the sound of breaking glass, a girl screaming, men cursing and the smash of fist on teeth - sounds sadly as typically Scottish as their blessed bagpipes. news/griffiths.html