Does it matter if children spend a lot of time watching television and looking at electronic device screens? The American Academy of Pediatrics says children in the U.S spend an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones, and other electronic devices. That may sound like a lot of time, but is it really a problem?
Researchers from the U.K.’s Population Health Research Institute, St George’s, University of London and the Institute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences, University of Glasgow studied children’s screen time. They wanted to determine if increased time correlates with overweight children and insulin resistance, both risk markers of Type 2 diabetes (T2D). The short answer? Yes, it does.
The British researchers surveyed 4,495 nine and ten-year-old children and asked them to self-report daily screen time. The children in the study all had fasting cardiometabolic risk marker assessments and anthropometry measurements. The latter is used to determine body size, shape, and composition. The study also measured physical activity of 2,031 of the children in the group.
While stating that randomized control trials and further tests are needed to further substantiate cause and effect, the study conclusion was that there is a positive correlation between screen time and T2D markers. Compared with children who watched or looked at screens for less than an hour daily, those with more than three hours a day of self-reported screen time had significantly higher markers. The hope is that evidence of causality can be used to influence screen time reductions in order to prevent T2D.