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Why Children Should Limit Their Screen Time

Why Children Should Limit Their Screen Time

Excessive screen use is cutting into time better spent on healthy activities, like exercise.

Published in the journal The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, an observational study of 4,500 American children, ages 8 to 11, found that only 5 percent of them meet recommendations to ensure good cognitive development: less than two hours of recreational screen time and at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day; plus 9 to 11 hours of sleep nightly.

Sixty percent of kids those ages spend too much time on screens—the average was 3.6 hours a day. So it’s no surprise just 51 percent of them get enough sleep (they’re online in bed) and only 18 percent meet the guideline for physical activity (again, staring at a screen). That, say the researchers, reduces cognitive development, academic performance, reaction time, attention and memory.

Here are a couple of ways to help your kids ditch the screen, at least for a while:

  • Plan daily family walks and outings; get them participating in organized sports.
  • Take digital devices (including computers) out of the bedroom at bedtime. That’ll help insure 9 to 11 hours of sleep so they’ll get up fresh for school.

Then the kids will be all right—and bright!

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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