Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Newsy: Extended Screen Time Linked to Depression

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According to a study, children who watch television or use a computer for more than two hours a day are more likely to experience psychological problems down the road.

We’ve all been told sitting too close to a TV could hurt our eyes, but what about our minds? A study released in the journal Pediatrics says kids who spend more than two hours per day watching television, playing video games or surfing the web are more likely to suffer psychological problems. (WNEG)

The study looked at more than 1,000 children between the ages of 10 and 11. It found children are more likely to experience feelings of unhappiness and have trouble relating to friends and peers.

The BBC quotes the leader of the study, Dr Angie Page saying long periods in front of the screen could lead to issues down the road. She suggests moderation: "Watching TV or playing computer games for more than two hours a day is related to greater psychological difficulties irrespective of how active children are. Not all screen viewing is bad and at low levels physical activity may well compensate.”

But one doctor says the correlation might not be so cut and dried. She tells Knoxville, Tennessee’s WBIR, a lot of questions still need to be answered: “The study does not prove increased screen time leads to psychological problems in kids. In fact, it may be the other way around. We don’t know if, you know, watching on the computer or watching TV is causing kids to have these problems or kids who have problems are drawn to hanging out and watching TV and being on the computer." 

The study also found the negative effects of screen time can’t necessarily be counteracted with equal amounts of physical activity. A writer for CNET says that part doesn’t make sense: “According to the results of these questionnaires, the kid who spends hours every day playing soccer and constructing tree forts and skipping over sidewalk cracks runs the same risk of behavioral problems as the kid who is couch-bound.”

One doctor is quoted in Red Orbit saying either way moderation is key when children are put in front of any screen: “...we find that giving children a screen-time budget and helping them stick to that budget is the most effective way to reduce their television, video game, computer and other screen time, and to improve their health as a result."

So what do you think? Does screen time erode social skills and create a macabre mood? Or is this psycho-babble?

Writer: Matthew Hibbard


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