New study finds cutting back children's screen time linked to improved cognition

Ebony Scott
October 2, 2018

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

For the study, Canadian researchers at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute analyzed data collected from 4,524 American children, aged 8 to 11 years, who were participants in a large, long-term study of brain development and child health.

The findings were published in Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

Nineteen out of 20 children in the US failed to meet the lifestyle benchmarks.

A new study reports that only one in 20 kids in the United States meets guidelines on sleep, exercise and screen time, and one-third of kids are outside recommendations for all three. "In the case of evening screen use, this displacement may also be compounded by impairment of sleep quality", Dr Eduardo Esteban Bustamante, from the University of Illinois, USA, told the Daily Mail.

After comparing to two sets of children, wouldn't you know that the kids that met those guidelines, which included 9 to 11 hours of sleep, at least one hour of physical activity, and less than two hours of screen time actually had improved cognitive abilities and brain power?! He added that good sleep and physical activity are associated with improved academic performance, better reaction time, attention, memory, and inhibition.

Researchers kept in mind other factors that may have influenced the results such as the net household income, race and ethnicity, the body max index and other useful indicators, but they can not claim that the study is completely accurate. "The link between sedentary behaviours, like recreational screen time, is unclear as this research is in the early stages and it appears to vary depending on the types of screen-based activity".

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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. It might not come as a surprise that researchers found almost two out of every three USA kids spend more than two hours a day looking at devices.

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

The researchers found that as each recommendation was met by a participant, there was a positive association with global cognition, which includes memory, attention, processing speed and language.

The study's authors urge parents, teachers, physicians and policymakers to "promote limiting recreational screen time and prioritising healthy sleep routines throughout childhood and adolescence".

"Irrespective of our findings", the authors stress, "physical activity remains the most important behaviour for physical health outcomes, and there is no indication in the literature that it negatively affects cognition". Some researchers argue children need more screen time, social media platforms, however, feel exiling young users is beneficial for them and even tech icons like Bill Gates have come forward to admit he doesn't let his kids use phones.

"Each minute spent on screens necessarily displaces a minute from sleep".

Other reports by GizPress

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