Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Limited screen time good for children's brains

Too much screentime daily may damage kid's brain function Study reveals best way to improve your child's brain power
Steve Townsend | 02 October, 2018, 00:30

Canadian researchers looked at the first bits of data from a 10-year-long USA project meant to study how children's brains develop over time, called the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study (or more cleverly, the ABCD study).

The study was published last week in the journal "The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health". More than 50% skipped on the recommended amount of sleep, (ranging between nine and eleven hours per night), and only 18% exercise for one hour per day.

"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 questionnaire found that children that met all three recommendations or met the sleep and screen-time recommendations - or just met the screen-time recommendations - performed noticeably better than children who met none of them, or met other combinations of the guidelines.

"Behaviors 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", Dr. Jeremy Walsh, lead author of the study, said in a press release. The study controlled for factors such as family education level and household income.

Researchers found even just limiting screen time or getting enough sleep had the strongest links to better cognition.

Almost 30 percent of children failed to meet any of the recommendations, more than 40 percent met only one, a quarter met two, and only five percent conformed to all three.

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For sleep and exercise, the recommendations align with those of the World Health Organization, but Canada is the first country to propose limits for time spent in front of a back-lit screen.

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.

Parents who possess the courage to separate their children from their smartphones may be helping their kids' brainpower, a new study suggests.

Walsh and the team analyzed data coming from 4,520 children from 20 locations in the US the experts also tested the kids' cognitive skills, adjusting the results for puberty development, household income, and more factors that might have the ability to affect the kids' performance.

But some studies have suggested that the potential for damage is more about the type of content on these screens and whether parents are involved than about the amount of time using them.

On average, kids aged between 8 and 11 spend 3.6 hours per day in front of the TV, mobile phone, computer or tablet screen.

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