Sport can help children beat dangers of screens

Sport can help children beat dangers of screens

Are your children spending too much time infront of their video screens?

Dr. Mandhane and his colleagues crunched the numbers and found that parents of five-year-old children who logged two or more hours of screen time daily were five times more likely to report "clinically relevant externalizing behaviour problems", such as inattention, compared to the parents of children who spent 30 minutes or less in thrall to a screen every day. One study published earlier this year on Canadian children found that children who used screens for more than one hour a day at 24 months had a higher risk of developmental problems at 36 months, and 60 months.

"We found that screen time had a significant impact at five years of age", said Piush Mandhane, associate professor of pediatrics in the U of A's Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, in a Wednesday news release.

Although the study could not establish a clear cause-and-effect relationship between the two, it suggests that a child's preschool years may be a vital time for providing proper guidance on screen time limits.

But Colby and his brothers, Carter, 11, and Cameron, 13, are usually not allowed screen time until they complete the tasks listed on the family white board, including emptying their backpacks, putting away their dishes, finishing their homework and, in the winter, shovelling the driveway.

The research used data from the CHILD Cohort Study, a national birth cohort study collecting a wide range of health, lifestyle, genetic and environmental exposure information from almost 3,500 children and their families from pregnancy to adolescence.

Whether it's from tv screens, video screens, computers, laptops, tablets, or phones, a new study suggests pre-schoolers behaviour is negatively affected when they spend a few hours in front of these devices.

The current study was conducted by gathering information from parents about their children's screen time during their 3- and 5-year follow-ups.

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The study also found that children who fell short of the recommended 10-hours-a-day sleep guidelines were at increased risk for behavioural issues. Are the guidelines appropriate? With screen time on the rise among children, Mandhane said it came as no surprise when parents began asking, "How much is too much for our children?"

The researchers also looked at other factors that provided protection from the negative effects of too much screen-time. While good sleep had little impact, participation in organized sports was the most outstanding factor.

"Interestingly, it wasn't physical activity on its own that was protective; the activity needed to have structure", Mandhane said in a release. "The more time children spent doing organised sports, the less likely they were to exhibit behavioural problems".

Fellow author Sukhpreet Tamana said: "A lot of the things you do through organised activities are really important for young kids early on". "It sets the stage for development among children".

In lieu of screen time, parents should increase the opportunities for children to experience other structured activities.

"Little is known about how the type of media consumed is linked to mental health outcomes, and whether screen content itself is detrimental or is a marker for less activity or social interaction", said the conclusion of the research paper.

The study suggests that the optimal amount of screen time for children should be between zero and 30 minutes daily. By the time the children reach the age of 5, their average screen-time is 1.4 hours daily.

"This is the ideal time to talk about what is a healthy relationship with screens", he says of the early years.

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