The theory that prolonged screen time may affect cognition has been backed-up by several studies, and it has been explain that each minute of screen time reduces the time available for physical activity, which would benefit the child more.
In general, health experts say parents should put a tight limit on screen time, and encourage activities that are more productive (either physically, mentally, or both).
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 children who scored best on tests for assessing language abilities, memory, executive function, attention, and processing speed met those sleep, screen time and activity benchmarks. Overall, the survey revealed that only 5 percent of children met all three guidelines, and 29 percent of them didn't meet any of them.
"We found that more than two hours of recreational screen time in children was associated with poorer cognitive development", said lead author Jeremy Walsh, a researcher at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa.
The results have been measured against the Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth. This is nearly double the suggested time of a maximum of 2 hours. "More research into the links between screen time and cognition is now needed, including studying the effect of different types of screen time, whether content is educational or entertainment, and whether it requires focus or involves multitasking".
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"Based on our findings, paediatricians, parents, educators, and policymakers should promote limiting recreational screen time and prioritising healthy sleep routines throughout childhood and adolescence", Walsh added.
The increase in cell phone use from a young age is also worrying for many parents and health experts. It should also be noted that Canada is the first country that proposed limits for time spent in front of a backlit screen. She, however, was not part of the study.
Research suggests teens who spend more time using social media and the internet, while avoiding socializing, ports, or schoolwork, had "lower psychological well-being".
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