More than two hours screentime a day could damage children’s brain development
29 September, 2018, 02:43
On average, children aged eight to 11 spent 3.6 hours per day glued to a TV, mobile phone, tablet or computer screen, almost double the suggested limit of two hours, researchers found.
Parents are all too familiar with the battle to get their children to stop playing video games or watching television to play outside instead.
A new study published by Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, examined 4,500 U.S. children aged between eight and 11 to determine how screen time affects their cognitive development.
Half the kids were getting enough sleep, 37 per cent remained within the screen-time limits, and only 18 per cent met the physical activity recommendation.
The more individual recommendations that the child met, the better their scores on cognition tests.
Taken individually, limited screen time and improved sleep were associated with the strongest links to improved cognition, while physical activity may be more important for physical health.
"Behaviours and day-to-day activities contribute to brain and cognitive development in children, and physical activity, sedentary behavior, and sleep might independently and collectively affect cognition", said Jeremy Walsh, of CHEO Research Institute in Canada.
It's interesting to note that even children who do not regularly exercise or achieve the recommended amount of sleep but kept their screen time down to a maximum of two hours, still performed 4% better than average.
But scientists in Canada found only one in 20 of the 4,520 U.S. children studied were meeting all of these key recommendations.
If you're anxious that too much "screen time" could be sapping your child's intelligence, new research suggests you might be right.
However, it has not yet been proven whether or not poor cognitive development is down to online activity itself or the time spent using electronic devices instead of exercising or sleeping.
Researchers said more work was now needed to better understand the effects of different types of screen use. Nevertheless, the findings suggest that "pediatricians, parents, educators, and policymakers should promote limiting recreational screen time and prioritizing healthy sleep routines throughout childhood and adolescence", Dr. Walsh said.
In terms of limitations, the data was only recorded once and could not account for how behavior changes over time.
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