If you’re concerned about fitness for children, it couldn’t come as a surprise that computers and televisions affect children’s fitness levels. Several studies have pointed to that already. But this new study from the New South Wales Centre for Overweight and Obesity is a little different.
The difference in this study is that the researchers included ALL screen time as well as general sedentary time. They included text messaging, reading, homework and even sedentary hobbies in their results. Most previous studies only included playing computer games and watching TV.
They found that a child’s level of aerobic fitness is strongly associated with their level of ’small screen time’ and overall sedentary behavior.
Interestingly, girl’s fitness was more likely to drop with sedentary behavior vs older boys, who were less affected.
The researchers recommend that children swap excess ’sitting time’ for ’active time’ and limit their total time in front of a screen to less than two hours a day in order to maintain fitness levels. Even better would be establishing “No screen days” when no computer screens or TVs can be watched (perhaps on school days).
In 2001, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued guidelines which suggested a two hour limit of sedentary behavior for children. The AAP were based on expert opinion. These recent findings mark the first physiological evidence supporting the AAP guidelines.
Additional Reasons For Limiting TV And Computer Time
In the Winter 2008 issue of Natural Health and Vegetarian Life, naturopath Linda Maher lists seven additional reasons for restricting children’s television viewing time:
- Television inhibits visual development
- Television retards brain development
- Television retards the development of muscles
- Television encourages the overproduction of alpha brain waves (passive state)
- Television has been linked with childhood obesity
- Along with computers and videos, television encourages difficulty in adjusting to the routine and structure of school life and the learning process
- Television can cause difficulties in interpersonal relationships, both within and outside the family.