Tuesday, October 12, 2010

'Screen time' and children's mental health

Spending long hours in front of a flickering screen could damage children's mental health even if they aren't couch potatoes in the rest of their life. Researchers from the University of Bristol studied 1,000 children aged between ten and 11. They measured the time they spent in front of the screen, used child-friendly questionnaires to assess their mental health and fitted them with an activity monitor to measure their levels of activity. The study found that more than two hours a day of 'screen' time -either watching TV or playing computer games - was related to higher psychological difficulty scores regardless of how active children were the rest of the time. Interestingly the children who spent more time sedentary had better psychological scores overall. The children who did more moderate physical activity felt better in certain areas, including emotional health and how well they got on with other children but did worse in some areas related to behaviour, including hyperactivity.

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