U.S. teenagers are still spending hours in front of the TV and computer every day — despite years of expert advice that kids’ “screen time” should be limited, a new government study finds.
In two national surveys of children aged 12 to 15 years, researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly three-quarters spent at least two hours a day watching TV and using a computer.
The surveys also found that 15 percent of teens watch four or more hours of TV daily, while nearly 12 percent report using their computers for four or more hours a day. The surveys didn’t ask teens about their use of smartphones. The findings are published in the July issue of the NCHS Data Brief.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has long recommended that children and teens devote no more than two hours to entertainment media each day. That advice is based on research linking more screen time to obesity, higher blood pressure and cholesterol, sleep loss and problems at school.
This latest CDC study found that teenagers’ weight did, in fact, correlate with their screen time: Only 20 percent of obese kids were limiting TV and computers to two hours per day — versus 31 percent of their normal-weight peers.
Dr. Angela Diaz, director of the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center in New York City, agreed that parents should start a media moderation message early. “It’s important to try to establish children’s habits early in life,” Diaz said. “Try to create an environment where kids have choices other than TV and computers.”