Too much screen time af­fect­ing chil­dren’s well-be­ing

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Front Page -

NEW RE­SEARCH has found that just one hour of screen time can af­fect chil­dren’s and teens’ be­hav­iour. Even chil­dren as young as two are at risk of higher lev­els of anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion due to time spent on smart­phones or watch­ing tele­vi­sion. The study, by re­searchers at San Diego State Univer­sity and the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia, looked at data gath­ered from the Na­tional Sur­vey of Chil­dren’s Health car­ried out in 2016.

The re­searchers an­a­lysed 40,337 sur­veys com­pleted by care­givers of chil­dren aged two to 17, who were asked about the chil­dren’s ex­ist­ing med­i­cal care, emo­tional, de­vel­op­men­tal and be­havioural is­sues, and youth be­hav­iours, in­clud­ing daily screen time. The find­ings, pub­lished in Pre­ven­ta­tive Medicine Re­ports, showed that more hours of screen time are as­so­ci­ated with lower well-be­ing in chil­dren and ado­les­cents aged two to 17, with high users show­ing less cu­rios­ity, self-con­trol, and emo­tional sta­bil­ity.

Among preschool­ers, high users of screens were twice as likely to of­ten lose their tem­per and 46 per cent more likely to be un­able to calm down when ex­cited. Around 22.6 per cent of those aged 11 to 13 who spent more than seven hours with screens daily were not cu­ri­ous or in­ter­ested in learn­ing new things, com­pared to 13.8 per cent of those who spent four hours on screen and around nine per cent of those who spent one hour in front of a screen.

Teens who spent more than seven hours a day on screens were twice as likely as those spend­ing just one hour on a screen to have been di­ag­nosed with anx­i­ety or de­pres­sion, a sig­nif­i­cant find­ing ac­cord­ing to the re­searchers. In ad­di­tion, 42.2 per cent of teens aged 14 to 17 who spent more than seven hours a day on screens did not fin­ish tasks, com­pared with 27.7 per cent of those who spent fours hours a day on screens and 16.6 per cent for those who spent one hour daily in front of a screen.

More­over, the as­so­ci­a­tions be­tween screen time and well-be­ing were stronger among ado­les­cents than among young chil­dren. “At first, I was sur­prised that the as­so­ci­a­tions were larger for ado­les­cents,” com­mented re­searcher Jean Twenge. “How­ever, teens spend more time on their phones and on so­cial me­dia, and we know from other re­search that these ac­tiv­i­ties are more strongly linked to low well-be­ing than watch­ing tele­vi­sion and videos, which is most of younger chil­dren’s screen time.” Twenge added that the study pro­vides fur­ther ev­i­dence to sup­port the Amer­i­can Acad­emy of Pae­di­atrics’ es­tab­lished screen time lim­its – an hour a day for those aged two to five, with a fo­cus on high-qual­ity pro­grams – and sug­gested that sim­i­lar lim­its of per­haps two hours a day should be ap­plied to older school-aged chil­dren and ado­les­cents.

How­ever, teens spend more time on their phones and on so­cial me­dia, and we know from other re­search that these ac­tiv­i­ties are more strongly linked to low well­be­ing than watch­ing tele­vi­sion and videos, which is most of younger chil­dren’s screen time.

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