Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Limiting Screen Time And Increasing Sleep Improves Cognitive Abilities Of Children

Too much screentime daily may damage kid's brain function Study reveals best way to improve your child's brain power
Johnnie Parks | 02 October, 2018, 00:29

Limiting your child's recreational screen time to less than two hours a day, and ensuring sufficient sleep and physical activity, can significantly improve their brain function, a study has found.

Researchers in Canada made a decision to look further into the impact of screen time on cognition in over 4,500 children aged between eight and 11 years.

FMI: An abstract of the study and editorial can be found on the website for the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, but the full papers are being a paywall.

Walsh and his team looked at data - based on detailed questionnaires - for 4,520 children spread across 20 locations in the United States.

Half of the children met the sleep recommendation (51%, 2,303/4,520), 37% (1,655/4,520 children) met the screen time recommendation, and 18% (793/4,520 children) met the physical activity recommendation. Those recommendations urge parents to make sure their children get nine to eleven hours of sleep per night, less than two hours of recreational screen time per day, and at least an hour of physical activity daily (including at least three days per week of vigorous activity).

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. The study controlled for factors such as family education level and household income. 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.

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Taking into consideration the fact that this study is only observational which means that it can't prove a direct link between poorer thinking and more screen time, the situation is tricky.

When the researchers compared how well children met the three recommendations with their cognitive test scores, they found children who met all three recommendations tended to score highest on the tests.

A recently published study has revealed that kids which spend more than two hours in front of a screen show signs of decreased cognitive abilities.

"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".

The more individual recommendations the child met, the better their cognition. Notably, more studies are required to confirm if and how exactly too much screen time can hurt children's cognition. A separate report released by Common Sense Media previous year revealed that children from age 0 to 8 spend an average of two hours and 19 minutes in front of a screen every day.

As part of the project, funded by the National Institutes of Health, researchers across the U.S. interviewed children and their parents about their lifestyle habits.

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