Tag Archives: hyperactivity

Study Shows Risks for Kids Who Watch TV or Use Computers More Than 2 Hours a Day

New research is documenting some of the risks I’ve told you about in previous blogs for kids who utilize screen time (TV, computers, video games) more than 2 hours a day. Specifically, children who watch television or use computers for more than two hours a day are more likely to experience psychological problems than kids who don’t, even if they are physically active, according to this new study. Here are the details from WebMD:

The study, which involved 1,013 children ages 10-11, found that those who spent more than two hours in front of a screen, whether watching TV, using a computer, or a combination, also were more likely to say they had trouble relating to friends and peer groups and to report feelings of unhappiness.

The children were told to wear accelerometers, devices attached to their waists that recorded their activities every 10 seconds during waking hours for seven straight days.

Working on a computerized questionnaire, the children then were asked about how much time daily they usually spent watching TV or using a computer for reasons other than doing homework. They also were asked questions such as whether they often felt unhappy, down-hearted, tearful, or lonely.

Scores were based on a “Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire,” a well-known inventory designed to provide insights into the psychological well-being of young people.

The answers “combined to produce an overall score that indicates whether the child/young person is likely to have a significant problem,” study researcher Angie S. Page, PhD, of the University of Bristol in England, tells WebMD in an email. “It has five sections that cover details of emotional difficulties — conduct problems, hyperactivity or inattention,” and trouble relating to friends and peers.

The questionnaire “is only a screening tool that will provide predictions about how likely it is that a child or young person has significant mental health problems.”

Role of Physical Activity

Page tells WebMD that the study found “no evidence that sedentary time — time spent not moving or [engaging in] minimal movement — is related to negative psychological well-being. It seems more like what you are doing in that sedentary time that is important, [for example] if you choose to spend large numbers of hours screen viewing for entertainment then this is associated with negative mental well-being.”

Page tells WebMD that while low levels of screen viewing may “not be problematic, we cannot rely on physical activity to ‘compensate’ for long hours of screen viewing.”

She says “watching TV or playing computer games for more than two hours a day is related to greater psychological difficulties, irrespective of how active children are.”

Parents, she says, should encourage physical activity for their children and take steps to reduce their time in front of a screen.

What’s seems clear from the study, she tells WebMD, is that children who spend longer than two hours in front of a computer or TV screen may suffer detrimental consequences, physically and mentally.

Children who engaged in more moderate physical activity fared better in certain measures of psychological health, she says.

Screen Time May Consume Nearly 1/3 of Day for U.S. Kids

Child experts have issued an updated policy statement on use of electronic media for entertainment by kids. This is critical because children and teens in the United States spend an average of seven hours A DAY using television, computers, phones and other electronic devices for entertainment (compare this to the average of three hours a day watching TV in 1999). Parents, physicians, and educators need to understand the effects of this increasing exposure to media and educate youngsters about media use according to the American Academy of Pediatrics in the updated policy statement. Here are more details from HealthDay News:

The AAP statement lists several concerns:

  • Excessive time spent using electronic media leaves less time for physical activity or creative and social pursuits.
  • Violent or sexual content can have harmful effects, as can movies or programs that glamorize alcohol and tobacco use.
  • Research has shown that high levels of media use are associated with school problems, attention difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity.
  • The Internet and cell phones have become major new sources and platforms for illicit and risky behaviors.

However, educating children about media can help reduce harmful effects, and careful selection of media can help children learn, the AAP said. Along with longstanding advice about limiting, planning and supervising children’s media use, the group’s updated policy statement includes a number of new recommendations:

At each office visit, doctors who care for children should ask at least two media-related questions:

  1. Is there a TV set or Internet access in the child’s room?
  2. How much entertainment media is the child watching?

The AAP recommends children have less than two hours of screen time per day. Before 2 years old, viewing should be avoided altogether, it says. Parents need to be good media-user role models, encourage alternate activities, and make children’s bedrooms electronic media-free areas.

Schools should offer media education and Congress should consider funding media education in schools. The federal government and private foundations should boost their funding for media research.

The statement authors concluded that “a media-educated person will be able to limit his or her use of media; make positive media choices; select creative alternatives to media consumption; develop critical thinking and viewing skills; and understand the political, social, economic and emotional implications of all forms of media. Results of recent research suggest that media education may make young people less vulnerable to negative aspects of media exposure.”

In addition, the experts added, “simply reducing children’s and adolescents’ screen media use has been shown conclusively to have beneficial health effects.”

The Truth About 6 Holiday Health Myths

With the winter holidays gearing up, a duo of doctors is crying “Bah, humbug!” over some seasonal health myths. From poisonous poinsettias to heady heat loss, no holiday health myth is safe. Here are the facts, according to Rachel Vreeman, MD, and Aaron Carroll, MD, who are assistant professors of pediatrics at Indiana University’s medical school:

More Information: Continue reading

Dr. Walt’s Take on the Health Headlines – June 4, 2008

Here are my takes on some of today’s health headlines.

If Dad is not involved in child care, can we blame the mom?

Here’s one the major news outlets haven’t touched. Continue reading