Limiting children's screen time is linked to better cognition, study finds

Limiting children's screen time to less than two hours a day, along with sufficient sleep and physical activity is associated with improved cognition, says a study.

Child with phone (file picture). Source:

According to the CNN, The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health study included 4,500 US children aged 8 to 11 and measured their habits against the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth.

It found that 51 per cent of the children got the recommended nine to eleven hours of uninterupted sleep per night and 37 per cent met the recreational screen time limit of two hours or less per day.

On average the participants slept 9.1 hours per night and had 3.6 hours of screen time per day.

The researchers found that as each recommendation was met by a participant, there was a positive association with global cognition, which includes memory, attention, processing speed and language.

Jeremy Walsh, lead author of the study says, "We know that the behaviours of physical activity, sleep and screen time can independently impact the cognitive health of a child. However, these behaviors are never considered in combination."

Kirsten Corder, a senior investigator scientist at the University of Cambridge said, "This new research adds to existing evidence, and supports concerns about screen time and potential negative links with cognitive development in children."

Other organisations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics have guidelines in place to help with the management of children's screen time.

The organisation suggests setting guidelines, knowing who your child is talking to, knowing what they are doing, encouraging physical playtime and creating "tech-free zones," such as bedrooms.

Walsh believes that having good screen habits could help encourage usage within recommended durations and the benefits that come with it.