Published: Tue, October 02, 2018
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Too much screen time, too little horseplay for kids: U.S

Too much screen time, too little horseplay for kids: U.S

The study was conducted between 1st September 2015 and 15th September 2017.

Researchers from several Canadian institutions explored data on the daily activity of 4,524 U.S. children aged between eight and 11, and published their findings in article entitled Associations between 24 hour movement behaviours and global cognition in United States children: a cross-sectional observational study.

The findings were published in Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

Walsh along with his research team observed the data of 4,520 children spread across 20 locations in the US. Children who spent under two hours on screens scored, on average, about 4 percent higher on thinking-related tests than the kids who didn't meet any of the screen, exercise, or sleep guidelines. They should also get nine to 11 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night in order to perform their best at school.

"Behaviours and day-to-day activities contribute to brain and cognitive development in children and physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep might independently and collectively affect cognition", he is quoted as saying by the Daily Mail. The study controlled for household income, parental and child education, ethnicity, pubertal development, body mass index and whether the child had had a traumatic brain injury.

Researchers found even just limiting screen time or getting enough sleep had the strongest links to better cognition. Both the parents and the children completed questionnaires at the beginning of the study to gauge typical behaviors in these three areas.

"Without consideration of what kids are actually doing with their screens, we're seeing that the two-hour mark actually seems to be a good recommendation for benefiting cognition", said Jeremy Walsh, an exercise physiologist at the University of British Columbia in Okanagan and one of the study authors, to Science News.

Nearly one in three children (29% - 1,330/4,520) met none of the guidelines, 41% (1,845/4,520) met only one, 25% (1,129/4,520) met two, and 5% (216/4,520) met all three recommendations. 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.

A recent report found that the average American teen spends more than six and a half hours each day using screens for entertainment (so not including time spent on homework). A separate report released by Common Sense Media a year ago revealed that children from age 0 to 8 spend an average of two hours and 19 minutes in front of a screen every day.

In the study, children who met those guidelines were more likely to score well on tests, and showed positive mental development.

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