Editorial

Screen time new concern for today's millennial parents

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Their parents and grandparents worried about their children watching too much television, but todayís young parents are dealing with an entirely new phenomenon.

The glowing television screen replaced the fireplace hearth in the 1950s, but todayís homes may contain a dozen glowing screens accompanying children everywhere they go.

Two out of three U.S. children spend more than two hours a day looking at screens, and they perform worse on memory, language and thinking tests than kids who spend less time in front of a device, according to a study published online by Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

Researchers caution that the survey captures only one moment in time, and doesnít necessarily mean there will be long-term harm to brain development.

The study of 4,500 8- to 11-year-olds, was created from data collected as part of a larger Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study.

Researchers used expert guidelines set up in 2016 recommending no more than two hours of recreational screen time a day, an hour of exercise and between nine and 11 hours of nighttime sleep.

Thatís a high bar to clear; only 5 percent of the children met all three guidelines on screen time, exercise and sleep, and 29 didnít meet any of the guidelines, meaning theyíre getting less than nine hours of sleep, are on their screens longer than two hours and are not being physically active.

Letís hope the long-term problem doesnít turn out to be as big a problem as it appears in this initial study.

In the meantime, parents need to fall back on old techniques, using screen time as a reward or punishment for behavior.

That is, if they can pull themselves away from their own screens long enough themselves.

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