Limiting kids' screen time improves brain function

The vote is in response to the nation’s recent ballistic missile tests

The vote is in response to the nation’s recent ballistic missile tests

Furthermore, the data used in the study was collected only once, not over time.

Researchers from several Canadian institutions explored data on the daily activity of 4,524 U.S. children aged between eight and 11, and published their findings in article entitled Associations between 24 hour movement behaviours and global cognition in United States children: a cross-sectional observational study.

FMI: An abstract of the study and editorial can be found on the website for the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, but the full papers are being a paywall.

Very few of the children - 5 percent - met all three recommendations, and nearly 30 percent met none of them.

"These findings highlight the importance of limiting recreational screen time and encouraging healthy sleep to improve cognition in children", the study's authors wrote.

Children who failed to meet all three criteria performed worse on thinking, language and memory tests than kids that met the recommendations, according to the study. The children had also provided spit samples, took questionnaires and got their cognitive functions measured by playing with puzzles. Researchers found children aged eight to 11 spent 3.6 hours per day on the computer screen, tablet, mobile phone, and TV, which double the recommended limit of two hours. "Evidence suggests that good sleep and physical activity are associated with improved academic performance, while physical activity is also linked to better reaction time, attention, memory, and inhibition". The study considered ethnicity, Body mass index (BMI), household income and, if any, traumatic brain injury.

"We know that the behaviors of physical activity, sleep and screen time can independently impact the cognitive health of a child".

When the researchers compared how well children met the three recommendations with their cognitive test scores, they found children who met all three recommendations tended to score highest on the tests.

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 more individual recommendations the child met, the better their cognition", the study concluded, noting that screen time was the most important factor.

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. Notably, more studies are required to confirm if and how exactly too much screen time can hurt children's cognition. "In the case of evening screen use, this displacement may also be compounded by impairment of sleep quality".

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