Limiting kids' screen time improves brain function

Limiting kids' screen time improves brain function

The observational study analyzed data from a broader study funded by the National Institutes of Health, focusing on 4,500 children between the ages of 8 and 11.

FMI: An abstract of the study and editorial can be found on the website for the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, but the full papers are being a paywall. Moreover, only 18 percent met the physical activity recommendation, 37 percent remained within the screen time limits, and half were getting enough sleep. A Canadian study reported that one in 20 kids in the USA meets the guidelines on sleep, exercise and screen time and nearly a third are outside recommendations for all these. Children and parents completed questionnaires and measures at the outset of the trial to estimate the child's physical activity, sleep and screen time.TORONTO: Parents, take note!

At the start of the study, the children's parents answered questions about their child's health-related activities, including screen time (TV, smartphones, tablets and video games), sleep patterns and physical activity.

Other factors such as parental and child's education, pubertal development, body mass index, ethnicity, household income and history of traumatic brain injury in the child were also taken into consideration. More research into the links between screen time and cognition is now needed, including studying the effect of different types of screen time, whether content is educational or entertainment, and whether it requires focus or involves multitasking.

A recently published study has revealed that kids which spend more than two hours in front of a screen show signs of decreased cognitive abilities. It might not come as a surprise that researchers found almost two out of every three US kids spend more than two hours a day looking at devices.

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The research suggests that screen time could be linked to worse results in school, along with negative impacts on a child's memory, language, and thinking skills.

Almost 30 percent of children failed to meet any of the recommendations, more than 40 percent met only one, a quarter met two, and only five percent conformed to all three.

Improvements in cognition were associated with each additional recommendation met, with limited screen time and sleep having the strongest correlation to improvement.

Surprisingly, meeting only the physical activity recommendation was not associated with higher scores on the cognitive tests. Each minute spent on screens necessarily displaces a minute from sleep or cognitively challenging activities. 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.

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