A new scientific advisory examines science to look at the health risks associated with a growing use of screen-based devices among children.
The advisory looks at how sedentary behavior, like sitting and playing video games or watching videos on a tablet or computer, affect the heart and metabolism in youth. The study believes portable electronic devices, with their unlimited amounts of accessible content, are creating new dangers and harming the lifestyles of young people.
The advisory also states that more understanding is needed before specific guidelines can be issued on modern youth and how they use electronic devices, but in the meantime it suggests removing televisions and screen-based devices from certain rooms in the home and to have them remain off and out of reach during mealtimes. The statement encourages device-free interaction and outdoor recreation.
“Although concerns have been raised about the actual adverse impacts of this phenomenon, the appropriate public health response is unclear because a strong evidentiary basis is lacking,” wrote the authors in the advisory, recognizing there is more to explore.
One expert suggests parents have to set a good example with their own behavior.
“When you’re with your kids you really need to be good about putting your phone down or your tablet down and talking to them and being engaged because they pick up on exactly what you’re doing,” said cardiologist Dr. Tara Narula, via CBS News.
The advisory was published by the American Heart Association on Aug. 6. Advisory co-author Dr. Nicholas Edwards, a pediatrician and sports medicine physician, suggests building good habits early in children.
“We can do more when kids are younger; it is harder to intervene as they get older,” Edwards told ABC News.
The study highlights changing patterns in homes and how parents can counteract increasingly sedentary children with healthier lifestyle choices.
“Overall, recreational screen time use has been increasing. Every family and child is different, but moving more and staying more active is better,” said Edwards, via ABC. “The core message is to ‘sit less and play more—just move.'”