Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Too much screen time, too little sleep linked to child development problems

A poll conducted for Common Sense Media a nonprofit focused on helping children parents teachers and policymakers negotiate media and technology explores families and technology addiction More than two hours screentime a day could damage children’s brain development
Ben Pena | 29 September, 2018, 02:45

The study is based on data gathered from over 4,500 USA kids aged 8 to 11 between September 2016 and September 2017 as part of a new, federally funded 10-year study on brain development and child health.

Limiting screen time for children to two hours or less per day is associated with higher cognitive function, according to research published Wednesday in the journal The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health.

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.

Children aged eight to 11 who used screens for fun for less than two hours a day performed better in tests of mental ability, a study found.

Only one in 20 kids in the United States meets guidelines on sleep, exercise and screen time, and almost a third are outside recommendations for all three, according to a study published on Thursday. These results similarly occurred in children fulfilled the daily recommendations for physical activity (60 minutes per day) and sleep (between nine to 11 hours).

Although the report was focused on children in the US, Walsh says the findings could be applicable in any country.

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Dr Walsh concludes: "We found that more than two hours of recreational screen time in children was associated with poorer cognitive development".

On average, the participants slept 9.1 hours per night, had 3.6 hours of recreational screen time per day and hit the physical activity goal 3.7 days per week.

Children also completed a cognition test, which assessed language abilities, episodic memory, executive function, attention, working memory and processing speed. The amount of recommended screen time depends on the age of the child.

But scientists in Canada found only one in 20 of the 4,520 U.S. children studied were meeting all of these key recommendations. Newman was not involved with the new study. Each minute spent on screens necessarily displaces a minute from sleep or cognitively challenging activities. The study's authors said that more research is needed to probe the links between screen time and cognition, including research differentiates between different types of screen time activities and what effects they have on children. Google has also introduced new features to limit screen time and monitor use on Android devices.

The study drew from data that's part of an even larger, long-term research project on brain development and child health in the United States.

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