With children spending more and more time on the internet, a health sciences professor is asking parents to consider trying an American mother's hands-on approach which sets firm rules and allows children to have a healthier online life.

Zentaro Yamagata, professor of social medicine at the University of Yamanashi, and others who conducted research on children from Koshu, Yamanashi Prefecture, and their internet use found that junior high school students who exhibit the telltale signs of online addiction spend prolonged periods browsing the web — meaning they devote less time to studying, physical activity and sleep.

Too much screen time was also linked to depression, said Yamagata, who has been studying children for more than 30 years.