Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Limiting children's screen time linked to better cognition, study says

A young child playing with a tablet device The research tracked the daily habits of 4,500 children who were then asked to carry out detailed cognition tests Credit Getty
Johnnie Parks | 29 September, 2018, 02:46

However, only one in 20 USA children aged between 8-11 years meet the three recommendations advised by the Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines to ensure good cognitive development - 9-11 hours of sleep, less than two hours of recreational screen time, and at least an hour of physical activity every day.

The National Institutes of Health has funded researchers to track the biological and behavioral development of children through adolescence, tracking how childhood experiences such as sports, sleep patterns, social media, and video games influence a young person's life.

The study included about 4,500 United States children ages 8 to 11 and measured their habits against the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth. But as the researchers noted, the more individual recommendations the child met, the better their cognition.

The strongest link was between meeting...

This is the recommendation from experts, published this week in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal.

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

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If you're anxious that too much "screen time" could be sapping your child's intelligence, new research suggests you might be right.

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.

"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. She was not involved in the study. The study's authors said that more research is needed to probe the links between screen time and cognition, including research differentiates between different types of screen time activities and what effects they have on children.

"Each minute spent on screens necessarily displaces a minute from sleep". In the case of evening screen use, this displacement may also be compounded by impairment of sleep quality.

But the team claims following these guidelines in childhood, particularly for screen time, is key for mental development.

The study concluded that the children's brain development was better with each guideline respected.

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