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Study: Limiting Children’s Screen Time Improves Their Memory, Attention and Language Skills

2 minute read

A new study found that limiting children’s screen time to two hours a day can improve brain function.

The study, published by The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, looked at around 4,500 children ages 8 to 11 and compared their sleep schedules, exercise and screen time to the national guidelines for children’s health. According to the guidelines, children in that age group should not spend more than two hours in front of a screen, should get somewhere between 9 to 11 hours of sleep and should get at least an hour of physical activity a day.

Researchers found that of those 4,500 children, only 5% met all the suggested guidelines.

The study revealed that only 51% of the children got the recommended sleep time, 37% got the recommended screen time and 18% met the physical activity requirement.

Researchers said that the children who did meet the recommended goals had better “global cognition” which includes memory, attention and language.

Jeremy Walsh, lead author of the study said it allowed researchers to look at the collective impact of sleep, screen time and exercise on children.

“We know that the behaviors of physical activity, sleep and screen time can independently impact the cognitive health of a child. However, these behaviors are never considered in combination,” he told CNN. “We really had an opportunity here to look at how meeting each of these guidelines and meeting all of the guidelines relate to cognition in a large sample of American children.”

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Write to Gina Martinez at gina.martinez@time.com