Study Says That Limiting Kids’ Screen Time is Linked to Big Benefits

Screen time: if you have kiddos, it’s likely a pretty controversial topic in your home, maybe even more so than “homework time” and even “bedtime”–and for good reason, the more we all become attached to our devices, the more we experience their potentially devastating snares. Earlier this month, we told you all about the harmful effects that parents’ cell phone attachment has on their children, but now we’re shifting our focus to look at the benefits that kids can experience when their screen time is limited.

A brand new study published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health states that kids who have their recreational screen time limited to 2 hours per day experience improved cognition. Researchers found that along with the limited screen time, children will also have to get sufficient sleep and enough physical activity in order to reap the benefits.

The study, which used criteria from Canada’s standard Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth, revealed an extremely disturbing trend–most kids aren’t meeting the physical fitness, sleep, and screen time limitation standards that they should in order to keep healthy bodies and minds.

Here are the stats on the 4,500 children surveyed in the study:

  • 51% of the children surveyed get the recommended 9-11 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night
  • 37% of the children surveyed met the 2-hour screen time limitation
  • 18% of the children surveyed get the 60-minute physical activity recommendation per day
  • 5% of the children surveyed met the sleep, physical activity, and screen time recommendations
  • 30% of the children surveyed didn’t meet any of the three recommendations

Yep, it’s safe to say that things have changed drastically since we grew up! We can remember the days when physical activity (i.e. playing, bike riding, and jumping rope) was something our parents had to tear us away from doing. It’s clear that today’s sedentary lifestyle is shaping the habits of today’s kids, so much so that they would rather sit in front of a screen then play outside with their friends.

But, scary habits aside, there absolutely is good news for the kids who are meeting these recommendations. You see, researchers found that the small percentage of the kids who actually did end up living a balanced lifestyle, with restricted recreational screen time, sufficient exercise, and restful sleep experiences, improved global cognition, which covers a vast number of important mental functions, such as memory, attention, processing speed, and language.

This means that kiddos who spend time developing themselves in environments that are away from screens exhibit sharper–and much calmer!–behavioral responses than their peers that don’t.

Now, it should be noted that no kid is “too far gone” when it comes to lifestyle adjustments. Jeremy Walsh, the lead author of the study, asserts that the 30% who didn’t meet any of the criteria stand to benefit the most because they are not receiving any of the benefits from meeting these guidelines.”

It just goes to show you that it’s never too late to instill good, healthy behavior into your children.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic! Do your kids meet any of these criteria? If so, which ones? How do you limit screen time in your household?