Too much screentime daily may damage kid's brain function

Too much screentime daily may damage kid's brain function

Overall, these findings offer a "holy trinity" of healthy habits for parents to encourage in their children to ensure they're growing up with sharp, strong minds.

Surveys from parents of more than 4,500 American children ranging from eight to 11 years old were used in the study, which was published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health. The children came from 21 different locations across the United States.

"Behaviours and day-to-day activities contribute to brain and cognitive development in children and physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep might independently and collectively affect cognition", he is quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

In addition to limiting screen time, the study also found that cognitive performance was improved among kids who got at least nine hours of sleep per night and one hour of physical activity every day. Researchers took this to mean that having two hours or fewer of screen time per day was the largest factor in performing well on the cognitive test. They slept an average of 9.1 hours per night.

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.

Unfortunately, only one in 20 children were found to be meeting the recommendations.

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.

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

"This finding raises the possibility that daily recreational screen use in excess of 2 [hours] attenuates the benefits of sleep for cognition", the study's authors write.

Although there is substantial evidence for the association between physical activity and cognitive development, in this study meeting the physical activity recommendation alone showed no association with cognition. But only 37 per cent of children in the study met this criterion.

The study comes with numerous usual caveats that accompany an observational study.

Researchers say screen time does not stimulate the brain in the same way reading books do. The study was conducted between 1st September 2015 and 15th September 2017.

When paired with ample sleep and physical activity, kids aged 8 to 10 were able to perform better in tests that measured language abilities, episodic and working memory, executive function, attention span, and processing speed. The report said an average tween spends four and a half hours looking at screens for entertainment each day. And these children, the researchers found, were more likely to score better on their cognitive tests.

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