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Screen Time – A Risky Business

Screen Time

Screens are everywhere -- phones, tablets, computers and TVs. Just about everything is done electronically these days. Due to this, it has become harder to limit screen time for children. The hours of screen time increase as children get older. On average, children aged 8 to 18 devote 7 hours and 38 minutes to using entertainment media on a typical day. There are many risks associated with increased screen time. These include increased risk of childhood obesity, increased risk of developing aggressive behavior, decreased energy and more exposure to commercials, advertisements and propaganda.

Risks and how to limit screen time

One study evaluated the longitudinal relationship between screen time and BMI distribution across mid to late adolescents. This study included 1,336 adolescents aged 14 to 18 years. The participants self-reported time spent watching TV and playing video games. This information was gathered monthly. The results showed that screen time was positively associated with changes in BMI in the 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles. It was concluded that lowering screen time, especially among overweight and obese adolescents, could contribute to reducing the prevalence of adolescent obesity.

So how do you get children away from the screens, especially when they might need to be on the computer for school purposes? Be a role model and set an example. If you are on your phone or watching TV all day, your child is more likely to want to do the same. Other methods that help reduce screen time are setting limited viewing times, encouraging other activities and playing with your children.

Bottom Line:

Screen time is something that may be hard to avoid, but has the potential to lead to serious health issues, especially in children and adolescents. As a parent, it is important to set boundaries with screen time by limiting how much your child can watch along with the content they are watching. Get involved in your child’s life by promoting other healthy activities that they can do with other children or you can do as a family.

Written by: Emelie Buell, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern

Source 1: Mayo Clinic

Source 3: Obesity

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