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

Limiting kids' recreational screen time to less than two hours a day, along with sufficient sleep and physic...

Posted: Oct 10, 2018 6:35 PM
Updated: Oct 10, 2018 6:35 PM

Limiting kids' recreational screen time to less than two hours a day, along with sufficient sleep and physical activity, is associated with improved cognition, according to a study published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

The study included about 4,500 US children ages 8 to 11 and measured their habits against the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth. It found that 51% of the children got the recommended nine to 11 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night, 37% met the recreational screen time limit of two hours or less per day, while 18% met the physical activity recommendation of at least 60 minutes of accumulated physical activity a day.

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Only 5% of the children in the study met all three recommendations; 30% met none at all.

On average, the participants slept 9.1 hours per night, had 3.6 hours of recreational screen time per day and hit the physical activity goal 3.7 days per week.

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. Those who met all three had the most "superior" global cognition, followed by those meeting the sleep and screen time recommendation and finally the screen time recommendation alone, according to the study.

"We know that the behaviors of physical activity, sleep and screen time can independently impact the cognitive health of a child. However, these behaviors are never considered in combination," said Jeremy Walsh, lead author of the study and a former post-doctoral fellow at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, where the research was carried out. "We really had an opportunity here to look at how meeting each of these guidelines and meeting all of the guidelines relate to cognition in a large sample of American children."

The study took data from the National Institutes of Health-funded Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study and included surveys done by parents about the amount of sleep a child got, how often they were physically active and how much screen time they had.

Walsh believes that the 30% of participants who did not meet any of the guidelines are those that have the most to gain from adjustment of daily behaviors.

"They stand to benefit the most because they are not receiving any of the benefits from meeting these guidelines," said Walsh.

"This new research adds to existing evidence, and supports concerns about screen time and potential negative links with cognitive development in children," Kirsten Corder, a senior investigator scientist with the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, said in a statement. She was not involved in the study.

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.

Other organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics have guidelines in place to help with the management of children's screen time. The organization suggests setting guidelines, knowing who your child is talking to, knowing what they are doing, encouraging physical playtime and creating "tech-free zones," such as bedrooms. The amount of recommended screen time depends on the age of the child.

Walsh believes that having good screen habits could help encourage usage within recommended durations and the benefits that come with it.

"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."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
Lee16238242
Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
Lauderdale12249324
Lowndes11286193
Lamar10644140
Pearl River9707244
Lafayette8827143
Hancock7835132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7204138
Monroe6989179
Pontotoc6970109
Warren6849178
Panola6746134
Neshoba6726210
Marshall6653141
Bolivar6440151
Union633897
Pike5924156
Alcorn5862107
Lincoln5525136
George510180
Prentiss500884
Tippah490282
Itawamba4829107
Scott477499
Adams4766125
Tate4748116
Leflore4723144
Copiah455895
Yazoo455591
Simpson4543117
Wayne442772
Covington432895
Sunflower4299106
Marion4265112
Coahoma4227109
Leake413790
Newton395581
Tishomingo381793
Grenada3775109
Stone365666
Jasper340166
Attala337790
Winston317792
Chickasaw313367
Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
Noxubee188642
Montgomery181557
Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
Kemper144941
Choctaw136527
Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 844594

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1160612006
Mobile741651379
Madison53255732
Shelby38313368
Baldwin38061589
Tuscaloosa35996641
Montgomery34473781
Lee25541263
Calhoun22582518
Morgan22441406
Etowah20009517
Marshall18771316
Houston17723425
St. Clair16863358
Limestone16123218
Cullman16032303
Elmore15902294
Lauderdale14945306
Talladega14186299
DeKalb12957269
Walker12011380
Blount10700192
Autauga10512157
Jackson10151194
Coffee9412192
Colbert9325208
Dale9013191
Tallapoosa7248201
Russell707465
Chilton7015170
Escambia6951143
Covington6926195
Franklin6337108
Chambers5778142
Marion5400130
Dallas5283209
Pike5114109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4777110
Geneva4640136
Bibb434094
Barbour369180
Butler3433100
Marengo342393
Monroe336666
Randolph334067
Pickens333188
Fayette329885
Henry320566
Hale317989
Cherokee316963
Crenshaw260477
Washington256952
Cleburne254360
Lamar251253
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192762
Coosa184647
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139041
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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