Pediatrics has just published a study out of the University of Bristol in the U.K. that has proven more than two hours of screen time a day puts children “at an increased risk of psychological difficulties,” according to BBC News. Even more importantly, researchers found that extra exercise does not “make up” for too much screen time.
Naturally, children who spent more time “reading and doing homework had better psychological scores overall.” Hardly a surprise. But researchers say “children who did fewer than 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day were at an increased risk of psychological difficulties if they spent more than two hours using a computer or watching TV.”
Reuters reports, “The odds of significant psychological difficulties were about 60 percent higher for children spending longer than two hours a day in front of screen(s) compared with kids exposed to less screen time.” They say these psychological problems were seen in children across the spectrum, “regardless of sex, age, stage of puberty, or level of educational or economic deprivation.”
I’ve covered many, many studies since I began writing here at Strollerderby, and I can’t tell you how many times friends have said things to me like, “Wow, they paid someone to essentially prove common sense?” It’s true. It’s sort of remarkable that there’s a scientist out there going, “They would have needed to do an experiment, a randomized controlled trial, to see whether limiting television or computer time improves psychological difficulties when compared to a control group that does not limit screen time.” That’s an actual quote from Dr. Thomas N. Robinson of the Stanford University School of Medicine. Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand the importance of science, and I understand that what Robinson implies is that some of the kids in this Bristol study may just be troubled. But on some basic level it seems foolish that parents who are paying attention to their kids – not to mention adults who are paying attention to the way they themselves feel – would need someone to tell them that their mental health improves when they shut off the TV, shut down the computer and go outside. I mean, people have been calling the TV the “boob tube” since before I was born! It doesn’t take a scientist. (Or does it?)
So, on that note, I’m off to grab some lunch – hopefully away from screens! But the problem is, every bar, restaurant, cafe and little hole in the wall you walk into these days has 11 screens blasting 11 different games/shows/news channels. Here’s to our mental health!
Photo: Nearly Famous Mommy Blog