Limiting children’s screen time linked to better cognition

Limiting children’s screen time linked to better 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.

Just over half (51 per cent) of the children studied slept the recommended amount, more than a third (37 per cent) met the screen time guideline but only 18 per cent were getting enough physical activity.

Provided they have sufficient sleep and physical activity.

Children spent an average of 3.6 hours a day engaged in recreational screen time.

Kids with the sharpest intellects spent less than two hours a day on their cellphones, tablets and computers, coupled with 9 to 11 hours of sleep and at least an hour of physical activity, the study found.

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.

The findings are likely to be considered by Dame Sally Davies, the country's chief medical officer, who is undertaking a review of the impact of technology on children's health, and whether to set guidance on healthy screen time.

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

The more individual recommendations the child met, the better was their cognition, the findings showed.

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

In contrast to earlier research, lack of exercise did not correlate with poorer performance on the cognition tests.

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.

Walsh says more studies are now needed into the associations between screen time and cognition, including research into the effect the different types of screen time have, whether the content is educational or entertainment and whether it requires focus or involves multitasking. In the case of evening screen use, this displacement may also be compounded by impairment of sleep quality.