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Limit Screen Time To Protect Kids From Heart Problems, Obesity: American Heart Association

Aug 08, 2018 08:00 AM EDT
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Child In Front Of Television
Too much screen time is terrible for the health, doctors stressed in a new scientific advisory. Health experts implore parents to reduce the time their child spends in front of the screen to spare them from heart and obesity issues.
(Photo : Vidmir Raic | Pixabay)

The American Heart Association tells parents to monitor their kids' screen time in as it has been linked to cardiovascular problems.

With all the technology available within arm's reach, it is not surprising that the modern youth can spend a significant chunk of the day just sitting and staring at their screens.

In a scientific statement published in the American Heart Association Journals, health experts stress the adverse impacts of childhood sedentary behavior and screen time to cardiometabolic health and obesity.

Kids' Attachment To Their Screens

Sure, television use has been steadily decreasing over the past several years. However, experts say the kids simply moved to other types of screens for recreational purposes.

In a Common Sense survey in 2015, tweens ages 8 to 12 years old were found to have an average of four hours and 36 minutes every day of recreational screen time. Meanwhile, teenagers between 13 and 18 years old log in six hours and 40 minutes daily.

More than half of teenagers or 57 percent spend over four hours per day on social media. These numbers exclude time spent in front of their screens at school or for homework.

Obesity, Heart Problems Linked To Screen Time

The sedentary behavior that accompanies screen time is harmful to kids' long-term health, doctors say.

"Screen time is associated with being overweight and obese which is associated with high cholesterol and high blood pressure," Dr. Stephen Daniels, a spokesman for the American Heart Association and pediatric cardiologist, tells CNN. "Once those risk factors, such as obesity, are in play in childhood, they tend to continue into adulthood."

Spending hours and hours in front of the computer not only has individuals idle for long stretches of time but it also reportedly fosters unhealthy eating and sleeping habits.

Parental Advice

Doctors recommend keeping screen time of children limited, even going so far as to suggest the removal of screens in bedrooms and at the table during meal times.

Tracie Barnett, Ph.D., lead author of the advisory, tells ABC News that there should be regulations in place in the household to cut down overall screen time.

"There should be no recreational screen time under 2 years of age, no more than 1 hour under 6 years of age, no more than 2 hours over 6 years of age," says Barnett, an epidemiologist specializing in pediatric obesity.

Device-free recreation should also be encouraged every day, including face-to-face interactions, play time, and spending time outdoors.

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