Limiting children's screen time linked to better cognition, study says

29 September, 2018, 10:25 | Author: Veronica Peterson
  • More than two hours screentime a day could damage children’s brain development

Overall, the researchers found that children who had less than two hours of recreational screen time each day, got nine to 11 hours of sleep and did at least one hour of physical activity, performed better in the cognitive tasks than who did none of these.

Using screen devices for fun activities such as playing games or watching videos was referred to as recreational screen use.

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.

The recommendations came from the Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth. Sixty-three percent of children spent more than two hours a day staring at screens, failing to meet the screen-time limit.

This is the recommendation from experts, published this week in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal.

"Each minute spent on screens necessarily displaces a minute from sleep or cognitively challenging activities".

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"We know that the behaviors of physical activity, sleep and screen time can independently impact the cognitive health of a child".

However, only one in 20 U.S. children aged between 8-11 years meet the three recommendations advised by the Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines for good cognitive development.

In addition, meeting only the screen time recommendation or both the screen time and sleep recommendations had the strongest associations with cognitive development. "In the case of evening screen use, this displacement may also be compounded by impairment of sleep quality", he said.

Other organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics have guidelines in place to help with the management of children's screen time. He warns that, in that sense, the new study's findings "are a potential canary in a coal mine". 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.

"Based on our findings, paediatricians, parents, educators, and policymakers should promote limiting recreational screen time and prioritising healthy sleep routines throughout childhood and adolescence", he said.

Nicky Mehtani is an internal medicine physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital and a part of the ABC News Medical Unit.

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