More than two hours of screen time per day has been linked to worse executive function in children aged 2-5, according to a new study.
Executive function is a set of mental skills that help us to plan, focus, remember things and pay attention. It is important for academic success and overall well-being.
This is the first study to find a link between screen time and executive function in toddlers. The findings suggest that reducing screen time and increasing physical activity may help to improve executive function in this age group.
The study included 1,495 children aged 2-5 who were enrolled in the Adiposity-Based Biobank birth cohort study in the UK. Their parents completed questionnaires about their child’s screen time, physical activity and executive function.
Executive function was assessed using the Behavioral Assessment System for Children (BASC-2). The BASC-2 is a well-validated measure of executive function that includes subscales for planning, organization, attention, flexibility and impulsivity.
Screen time was defined as any time spent watching television, using a computer, playing video games or using a tablet or smartphone. Physical activity was defined as any time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity, such as playing outdoors, riding a bike or going for a run.
The findings showed that children who spent more than two hours per day in front of a screen had worse executive function than those who spent less than two hours per day in front of a screen.
Children who were more physically active also had better executive function than those who were less active.
There was a strong link between screen time and executive function in boys, but not in girls. This may be due to the fact that girls are generally more active than boys, even when they are watching screens.
The study did not find a causal link between screen time and executive function. However, the findings suggest that reducing screen time and increasing physical activity may help to improve executive function in toddlers.
More physical activity, less screen time linked to better executive function in toddlers, study finds
(HealthDay News) — For toddlers, more physical activity and less screen time may mean better executive function, according to a new study.
Executive function is a set of cognitive skills that helps with planning, problem-solving and self-control.
Researchers analyzed data from the Adirondack Health Institute’s Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, which looked at a group of 1,295 children from upstate New York. The children were initially enrolled when they were about 9 months old, and researchers followed them until they were 3 years old.
At age 3, the toddlers were given a standardized test that measured executive function.
The findings showed that, on average, the toddlers who had more physical activity and less screen time had better executive function scores.
In addition, the study found that the benefits of physical activity were greater for children from lower-income families.
The study was published online Feb. 19 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
“These findings suggest that interventions aimed at increasing physical activity or reducing screen time in early childhood, especially for children from lower-income families, might help to close some of the gap in executive function skills between children from different socioeconomic backgrounds,” study author Sarah Anderson, of The Ohio State University College of Public Health, said in a journal news release.