Published: Sat, September 29, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

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

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

"We found that more than two hours of recreational screen time in children was associated with poorer cognitive development".

Nearly a third of the American children are outside all three recommendations, shows the study published on 27 September 2018 in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

In the study, data were analyzed from 4,520 children from 20 sites across the US.

The more health guidelines the child met, the better they performed on the cognition test, the findings in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal showed.

"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". The average recreational screen time was 3.6 hours a day.

The study is based on data gathered from over 4,500 USA kids aged 8 to 11 between September 2016 and September 2017 as part of a new, federally funded 10-year study on brain development and child health.

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

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The study reports that on average, US children spend almost 3.6 hours per day looking at a screen for recreation.

The study included about 4,500 U.S. children ages 8 to 11 and measured their habits against the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth.

The strongest link was between meeting... Each minute spent on screens necessarily displaces a minute from sleep or cognitively challenging activities.

Participants' parents were questioned on their kids' daily habits from the amount of physical activity they participate in to the number of hours spent sleeping.

Parents who possess the courage to separate their children from their smartphones may be helping their kids' brainpower, a new study suggests. In the case of evening screen use, this displacement may also be compounded by impairment of sleep quality.

According to the study's authors, additional research is needed to better understand the effects of different kinds of screen time on cognition, and they point out that given the study's observational nature, it does not prove a causative link between screen time on cognition. "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.

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