Overweight, Overtired Kiwi Kids Need Less Screen Time – Nigel Latta

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Clinical psychologist Nigel Latta is backing a campaign for Kiwi parents to reduce screen time which he says is contributing to some Kiwi kids being overweight, overtired, and underachieving at school.

With over half of all New Zealand children indulging in more than two hours of screen time per day according to Ministry of Health figures, Latta says parents are struggling with the issue of how much screen time is too much, and how they should respond to their kids.

“The scientific consensus is pretty clear that ideally children should have no more than two hours per day of screen time, but it’s also very clear these guidelines are being ignored all over the developed world,” says Latta.

“However, this is not just about setting boundaries for kids, but also setting boundaries for ourselves, as the research also shows that in general, parents’ personal screen time use, and their attitudes towards it, is a significant predictor of how much screen time children have.”

Latta, an ambassador for the Hyundai Power Off/Family On campaign, says research clearly supports the idea thatexcessive time with smartphones, tablets, computers and television can have a negative effect on children.

He says the nationwide campaign, which encourages families to switch off and spend time together during the weekend of the 5th and 6th of September, is a great way for parents to introduce the concept of a ‘power off’ time to kids. 

“Technology is great,’ says Latta, “it opens up all kinds of exciting possibilities for our kids, but like everything it’s a matter of balance.”

With one-third of Kiwi kids currently classed as overweight, international studies have shown there is a clear relationship between increased screen time and increased BMI as it reduces activity levels and sleep time.

“The evidence suggests that young people are almost frozen still in front of screens,” explains Latta. “One study put accelerometers on children aged 10-14 and found they sat as if they were frozen in place while looking at a screen.”

The reduced sleep time is also of serious concern given how important it is for developing brains and mental health, adds Latta. “Sleeping near a small screen, sleeping with a TV in the room, and more screen time are all associated with shorter sleep durations, and later bedtimes for kids.”

Performance at school also suffers, with one Spanish study of adolescents finding that the more screen time young people had, the worse they did in school, with similar studies around the globe finding that high screen time was associated with poorer mental health and academic outcomes.

“All this clearly shows that parents are right to be concerned about the impact of excessive screen time and so initiatives like the Hyundai Power Off/Family On campaign are important,” says Latta.

“It’s not any single issue, but the sum of all the different parts which is the problem. If your child is not getting as much sleep, not getting much exercise, their social contact is reducing, and they are becoming increasingly dependent on screens for positive feelings, then all of those things are creating an imbalance,” explains Latta.

“Technology isn’t bad. In fact, technology is great and it affords our children opportunities we could never have dreamed of,” he adds. “It’s just a thing, like any other thing, and so the trick is keeping it all in balance. Not too much, not too little.”

“The research shows there is a tendency for more indulgent parents to let their kids have longer screen time, and stricter parents to let their kids have less, but the greatest predictor is, perhaps not surprisingly, access to screens,” explains Latta. “It’s not rocket science, the more you have, the more time they’ll spend on them. So being a bit of a softy on your kids is a slight predictor of screen time, but the actual number of screens in the house is a far more powerful predictor.”

Mums and dads also need to learn to switch off their devices more in order to set a better example for kids.

“You can’t set limits on your children if you don’t set limits on yourself. It’s really that simple,” says Latta. “If you’re sitting there checking emails, and Facebook, and reading the online newspapers, then that’s no different to them being on their consoles or Instagram. At least kids tend to connect more socially online, whereas grownups tend to sit and read stuff.

“If you want your children to power off, then you have to power off as well. You have to show them that real life happens in real life and not in posts or status updates.”

The benefits will not only have a positive impact on health and school work, says Latta, but will allow families to reconnect with each other in a meaningful way.

The General Manager of Hyundai New Zealand Andy Sinclair says the initiative is a continuation of the company’s Family Time Project which encourages Kiwis to spend more time with their families.

“Many of us have probably forgotten a time before digital devices became ubiquitous and all-consuming and most of us know we should probably be on them less, particularly at weekends. This campaign is a call to action for Kiwi families to set an example for our children and be more mindful of the intrusion technology has on family time,” he says.

For more information on the Hyundai Power Off/Family On initiative, visit

Q&A with Nigel Latta

The Hyundai Power Off/Family On campaign encourages families to switch off and spend time together during the weekend of the 5th & 6th September, and is a great way for parents to introduce the concept of a power offtime to kids.

Hyundai Power Off/Family On ambassador, Clinical Psychologist Nigel Latta, shares how he limits screen time in his family, and his tried and true power offactivities to entertain the kids.

How do you check in with yourself on whether you are spending too much time on devices?

Life is all about balance, so its really a matter of standing back every so often and thinking about how much time you spend looking at a screen. If every time you look up from your screen all you see is everyone else in the family looking at their own screen, then its probably time to set a few limits. You should also ask yourself when was the last time you all did something together as a family that didnt involve screens? If you cant remember, then its time to cut back.

How do you educate your children about screen time and the need for breaks?

Its really important to educate your kids about screen time and the need for breaks, and you do that in two ways: the first is that you talk to them about all of that stuff, and the second is that you set limits yourself to encourage the development of good habits. It really is as simple as that. You need to talk about managing screen time and discuss all those issues, but you also need to remember that youre the parent and so there need to be some limits.

What kind of rules do you personally have in your home around screen time and devices?

Our rules are really about times and places you cant use devices. When youre visiting friends or family, that isnt a place for screens. We also ban devices when were out at cafes or places like the beach. My boys have devices in their rooms, but they arent allowed to use them after a certain time each night. Ideally you should try and keep a screen-free window for about two hours before bedtime. Generally were just conscious of trying to help them to develop a balance in their screen time and real world time. Obviously if they have a big project on for school then theyll spend more time on screens doing actual work. Were okay with that. When it comes to leisure time thats when were more likely to intervene and button off.

What sort of activities do you do as a family when screens are off?

There are a bunch of things we do. Obviously going out for a coffee is a nice easy one, but were also quite keen on board games. I hate Monopoly with a passion, but some of the new board games are very cool and heaps of fun. Theres a great game called Werewolf where you have to figure out who the werewolf is - basically everybody gets to lie and be really sneaky. Genius fun!  Were also big road trippers, and so we try and build in road adventures where we can, although that does get harder as your kids get older and exams and study mean they need to get their head down.

For more information on the Hyundai Power Off/Family On initiative, visit

Top Tips for Parenting: Screen Time

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Clinical Psychologist Nigel Latta, an ambassador the Hyundai Power Off/Family On campaign, says parents need to reduce their own and their children’s screen time to form closer family relationships.

“The single most important thing we give our kids is our time. That’s where we teach them all the skills they’ll need to navigate life, and where we build our relationship with them. The pressures of the modern world are bad enough at eating into your time with your kids, but screens are a whole other layer of stuff trying to steal time from us.

“Sitting in a room with the kids while everyone is watching different screens isn’t spending time together, and it isn’t building a relationship, it’s just taking up space on the couch. You need to make sure you all have time unplugged and engaged in each other’s lives. That’s where the important conversations happen.

“You can do far more good in your children’s lives during a walk, than you can returning emails on your phone while they shoot zombies on the games console. There is just no better way to build your kids up than the simple act of spending time together in the actual world doing actual things.”

Latta says there are five key steps parents need to take if they are concerned about the amount of screen time in their children’s everyday lives

1. The most important thing is to lead by example. Make sure that you aren’t looking at screens all the time. Set limits on your own use first.

2. Decide exactly what kind of devices people actually need and when they need them. You probably don’t need a mobile phone when you’re nine, for example. You also don’t need every kind of device there is in the world.

3. Set limits for everyone about where devices can be used, such as:

-       No devices at the dinner table

-       No devices at cafes

-       No devices at Grandma’s house

-       No looking at a screen during an actual conversation with an actual person

-       No devices after a set time each night.

4. Make their offline life as interesting as you can by encouraging them to get involved in real world activities as well.

5. Have regular ‘device free’ days or evenings where the family does something together that doesn't involve screen time.

For more information on the Hyundai Power Off/Family On initiative, visit

Sleek All-New Elantra Reveals its Dynamic Impression

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Hyundai Motor is excited to provide customers a glimpse of the forthcoming All-new Elantra’s modern looks and unique design ahead of the car’s launch just around the corner. The new model’s dynamic and sleek style received the approval of a recent consumer study, where the Elantra’s striking appearance saw it ranked ahead of key rivals.

Designers of the All-new Elantra identified a series of innovative design aspects that give the car an unrivaled status and unique presence. Clever use of active character lines evoke a dynamic, stylish and confident appearance, building on the global popularity of the model.

Peter Schreyer, President and Chief Design Officer at Hyundai Motor Company said: “The All-new Elantra captures the car’s unique design characteristics that really place this model in a class of its own. The subtle and innovative appearance enhancements reflect Hyundai Motor’s vision for design. Furthermore, this car indicates a move from traditional to modern styling by communicating the new model’s comfort, fashion and sporty feel.”

In the newly release exterior rendering, the car’s innovative design points become clear. Noticeably, the large hexagonal grille is paired with slim and sporty headlights for a feeling of energy, while clean and refined surfaces build on the active stance of the All-new Elantra. Additionally, wheel arches with a goal of expressing the car’s dynamic road presence, helps to set the new model apart from other compact sedans.

Hyundai Premieres “Vision G” Coupe Concept

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Hyundai Motor America revealed the “Vision G” Concept Coupe at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) earlier today. The concept was described as Hyundai’s inspiration for its family of future premium products that promise luxury, performance and style with the value and responsibility that is the foundation of Hyundai’s brand.

 “The concept was designed with coordinated input from Hyundai design studios around the world, but was led by our team here in the U.S.,” said Peter Schreyer, Hyundai’s president and chief design officer. “The design is our interpretation of the idea that Hyundai breathes into all of its vehicles – a DNA that balances design and performance with the idea that you don’t need to be over the top in terms of glitz and stereotypical luxury cues.”

During the design process, Hyundai’s team of designers centred their work on the notion of “chivalry” – a word they felt best defined the idea that one doesn’t need to shout to be noticed and respected. “Vision G” is purposefully understated, despite its size and dramatic lines. One example of this respectful luxury – and a nod to the self-sufficiency of the driver – is a technology that automatically opens the door as if being opened by a valet.

The exterior styling of the concept is highlighted by a long hood, high-beltline and a cabin that presents a slingshot-like appearance. “In keeping with a design that speaks to the owner rather than ‘the spectators’ who might see the car on the road, Vision G appears dynamic and in constant motion,” said Christopher Chapman, head of Hyundai’s U.S. design centre and leader of the coupe’s design team. “After all – and if all is right in the world – the only time an owner sees the exterior of the car is when it’s standing still.”

The underlying idea of respectful luxury flows into the interior, underscored by its clarity and simplicity. No glaring examples of luxury, but rather elegant lines and finishes.

The heart of “Vision G” is the award-winning 5.0-litre Tau V8 engine producing 312kW at 6,000 rpm and 519Nm at 5,000 rpm. The Tau V8 engine family has been named to Ward’s prestigious Ten Best Engines list three times. With high-pressure direct injection for impressive power, low emissions and superb efficiency, this latest version of the Tau V8 benefits from an optimised intake runner length, enhanced timing chain for reduced friction and NVH, low-torque exhaust manifold, increased compression ratio and upgraded multiple-injection mapping. These enhancements combine to produce a flatter torque curve at lower rpm for even better driveability.