Too much screen time, too little horseplay for kids

A young child playing with a tablet device

A young child playing with a tablet device

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

Researchers discovered, by analysing USA children's data for eight to 11-year-old, the more of the recommendations a child fulfilled, the better their cognition.

In addition, children also completed a cognition test, which assessed language abilities, episodic memory, executive function, attention, working memory and processing speed.

The study reports that on average, USA children spend almost 3.6 hours per day looking at a screen for recreation.

The study followed more than 4,500 U.S. children aged between eight and 11, noting how much of their day involved recreational screen time, physical activity and sleep.

"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".

Nearly 30% of the children didn't meet the recommendations, more than 40% met one, a quarter met two, and only 5% of the children met all three guidelines.

Nearly a third of the American children are outside all three recommendations, shows the study published on 27 September 2018 in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

"They stand to benefit the most because they are not receiving any of the benefits from meeting these guidelines", said Walsh.

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.

The relationship between recreational screen time and cognitive development has historically been less clear, and this type of research is in early stages, he said. That's what the researchers found when they compared guideline adherence against performance on brain exercises ("cognition"). She was not involved in the study.

In his commentary, Dr. Bustamante likens the problem of screen time to the challenge of the childhood obesity epidemic, and said that both have been propagated by their profitability to industry, convenience to parents, and pleasure for children.

Overall, findings indicated that United States children enjoy an average of 3.6 hours of screen time a day while just over half meet the recommended amount of sleep.

Kids who met the sleep and screen time guidelines appeared to have the best intellects, followed by the kids who met just the screen time guidelines, the findings showed.

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