Screens could be damaging your child’s cognition, study reveals

Screens could be damaging your child’s cognition, study reveals

Screens could be damaging your child’s cognition, study reveals

The cross-sectional observational study examined the habits and abilities of 4,524 USA children in that age range.

It's recommended that children have nine to 11 hours of sleep per day, alongside an hour or more of physical activity, and less than two hours of screen time.

"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", says Dr Jeremy Walsh, CHEO Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada. The test found that exceeding the recommended amount of screen time had the largest impact on cognitive ability.

He continued and said that "Based on our findings, pediatricians, parents, educators, and policymakers should promote limiting recreation screen time and prioritizing healthy sleep routines during childhood and adolescence". Of the children in the study, 51% met the sleep benchmark, 37% exceeded the screen time limit, and 18% surpassed the activity expectation.

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4,524 children from the ages of 8 to 11 took part from September 2016 to 2017 in the ABCD study, and the current study looked at their results. This was surprising, according to the authors, and it may suggest that the physical activity measure may not have been specific enough.

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.

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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.

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She suggested that future research could benefit from using data collection methods that provide more precise results than questionnaires which rely on self-reported information.

"I think that the overarching goal here is that parents should consider the whole 24-hour day of their children", he said, "and put realistic rules or limits in place for how long they are on their screens for, having bed time rules, and making sure to encourage physical activity".

The authors note some limitations, including that their study is observational so can not establish the underlying causes or the direction of the association.

A new study found that the average American child spends 3.6 hours a day watching TV, using a computer, or looking at their phone or tablet.

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"Each minute spent on screens necessarily displaces a minute from sleep or cognitively challenging activities", Dr. Bustamante wrote in a commentary that accompanied the study.

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