Ask Dr. Nandi: Limiting children's screen time linked to better cognition, study says

Posted at 3:01 PM, Sep 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-28 16:45:45-04

If your child spends too much time in front of a screen, it could be affecting their brain development. 

Scientists have now revealed a link between screen activity and a child’s intelligence. 

Question: This sounds quite concerning as we know kids love their media. How did the screen time affect the kids?

You know I’m a Dad and I find this a bit alarming. I think parents really need to pay attention to how their kids are spending their free time.  Now in this study over 4,500 US children between the ages 8 and 11 took part.  The researchers looked at three guidelines:  are children limiting their screen time, getting enough sleep time and physical activity.  And they found children who spent less than 2 hours in front of screens, who slept 9 to 11 hours and did 1 hour of physical activity had the sharpest intellects.  They scored higher on thinking, language and memory tests.  And their ability to reason was also much better.  

Question: How many of the children met those three guidelines?

This is what’s so shocking, only 5 percent met all 3 guidelines.  And 30 percent didn’t meet one of them.  On average, the researchers found that children spent 3.6 hours every day in front of screens.  And this could be wrecking their ability to focus and stay tuned into completing a task.  

Question: Why are sleep and exercise a part of this study, how does it affect children’s intelligence?

Sleep is a time when the brain grows and also reorganizes memories.  If you lack sleep you can suffer from lower alertness and concentration.  Exercise can lead to larger brain volume, in particular, the areas associated with thinking and memory.  So both of these can really help children do well in class and also on tests.  I suggest to parents to limit screen time to 2 hours or less a day, make sure kids get between 9 – 11 hours of sleep a night and one hour of physical activity a day.  

If you’re looking to Super-charge your health, join me this Sunday on WXYZ at 1pm for The Dr Nandi Show.  You’ll learn how meditation and emotional and physical clutter can affect your health.   Plus powerful tips on how to create more health and happiness in your life.