Limit screen-based recreational media at home

Desiree Burns
August 9, 2018

The AHA recommends no more than one to two hours of screen time per day among children and teenagers, be it on smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, TV, and other outlets.

A lead author of the advisory and epidemiologist specializing in pediatric obesity, Tracie Barnett stated that, "The nature of screen time has dramatically changed - while watching television has gone down, overall screen time has gone up".

"There is also evidence that screens are disrupting sleep quality, which can also increase the risk of obesity", Barnett said.

A panel of American Heart Association experts reviewed 20 years of science on the relationship between cardiovascular disease, stroke and self-reported screen time by children and teens. In this review, the writing group found that the available scientific literature is based nearly entirely on self-reported screen time, with very few breaking down the type of device or the context in which it is used, which means that the studies are not created to prove cause and effect. Last year, a study from researchers at San Diego State and Florida State universities found almost half of teens who spent five or more hours in front of screens every day experienced thoughts of suicide or prolonged periods of hopelessness or sadness. Given that younglings already "far exceed these limits", they add, parents should step up to the plane and be vigilant about their children's screen time "including phones", Barnett believes.

As for Apple and iOS 12, which launches this fall, iPhones will include a Screen Time feature where users can control and review how they spend time on their mobile device. The document holds that children and adolescents have seen a net increase in the recreational use of screen-based devices over the last twenty years.

Try to keep screens out of the bedroom (as much as one can do that in the XXIst century), the team adds, as some studies have shown they can interfere with sleep patterns.

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Teens are the most sedentary children, according to the AHA, spending the most total time on games and onscreen media. Guardians ought to fortify the choices such as outdoor time, face-to-face interactions, play time.

Co-authors are Aaron S. Kelly, Ph.D.; Deborah R. Young, Ph.D.; Cynthia K. Perry, Ph.D.; Charlotte A. Pratt, Ph.D., M.S., R.D.; Nicholas Edwards, M.D., M.P.H.; Goutham Rao, M.D.; and Miram Vos, M.D.

More than half of teenagers or 57 percent spend over four hours per day on social media. Foundations and corporations donate as well, and fund specific programs and events.

Since sedentary behavior is linked to obesity risk, and obesity is linked to heart disease, the connection is clear.

Prolonged screen times is associated with increased hours of physical inactivity among children and teenagers, which in turn has always been associated with poor cardiovascular health and obesity.

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