Limiting children’s screen time linked to better cognition

Limiting children’s screen time linked to better cognition

Limiting children’s screen time linked to better cognition

On average, the kids in the study spent 3.6 hours a day engaged in screen time.

Children who used screens for less than two hours a day performed better in tests of mental ability, the study found.

It found that limiting screen time to less than two hours a day, in addition to having sufficient sleep and physical activity, is associated with improved cognition.

"The more individual recommendations the child met, the better their cognition", the study concluded, noting that screen time was the most important factor.

"Evidence suggests that good sleep and physical activity are associated with improved academic performance, while physical activity is also linked to better reaction time, attention, memory, and inhibition", Dr. Jeremy Walsh, the study's lead author and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia, said in the study's press release.

However, they acknowledge that their observational study shows only an association between screen time and cognition and can not prove a causal link.

In the study, data were analyzed from 4,520 children from 20 sites across the US.

Walsh believes that the 30 percent of participants who did not meet any of the guidelines are those that have the most to gain from adjustment of daily behaviors.

Dr. Eduardo Esteban Bustamante, an assistant professor of kinesiology and nutrition at the University of IL at Chicago who was not directly involved in the research, suggested that the study's findings about screen time may reflect interruption of important childhood growth cycles involving stress related to physical activity and recovery from sleep. That's what the researchers found when they compared guideline adherence against performance on brain exercises ("cognition").

"They stand to benefit the most because they are not receiving any of the benefits from meeting these guidelines", said Walsh. Newman was not involved with the new study.

France urges parents not to allow children under three to watch TV, and American paediatricians also favour a total ban on screen time until at least 18 months. The organization suggests setting guidelines, knowing who your child is talking to, knowing what they are doing, encouraging physical playtime and creating "tech-free zones", such as bedrooms. Children and parents completed questionnaires and measures at the outset of the trial to estimate the child's physical activity, sleep and screen time. The amount of recommended screen time depends on the age of the child.

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