Limiting screen time for children to two hours or less per day is associated with higher cognitive function, according to research published Wednesday in the journal The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health.
Canadian researchers from Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario evaluated more than 4,500 children for a period of 10 years on how screen time, physical activity and sleep affected their mental functions — called global cognition — and is measured by memory, attention, processing speed and language.
The children ranged in age between 8 and 11 years old at the beginning of the study.
Researchers found that children global cognition in children was positively associated with those who only spent two hours or less on screens. These results similarly occurred in children fulfilled the daily recommendations for physical activity (60 minutes per day) and sleep (between nine to 11 hours).
The recommendations came from the Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth.
Researchers said this is the first study to look at how a combination of the recommendations impacts brain function in children.
“We know that the behaviors of physical activity, sleep and screen time can independently impact the cognitive health of a child. However, these behaviors are never considered in combination,” Jeremy Walsh, lead author of the study and a former post-doctoral fellow at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, told CNN.
“We really had an opportunity here to look at how meeting each of these guidelines and meeting all of the guidelines relate to cognition in a large sample of American children.”
Of the observed children, at least 71 percent met at least one recommendation but only 5 percent met all three.
Of the individual recommendations, 51 percent of the children met the sleep recommendation, 37 percent met the screen time recommendation and 18 percent met the physical activity recommendation.