Children from infancy are spending greater amounts of time looking at recreational screen media and becoming increasingly sedentary.(more)
 Discretionary screen time (DST) is now the main waking activity of children.(more)
 Parents, children and teachers remain unaware of the medical and developmental risks and the position of medical bodies on DST.(more)
 Excessive discretionary screen time is linked with significant sleep disturbances.(more)
 A decline in face-to-face family interaction may compromise relationships and the development of social skills.(more)
 High levels of computer game screen time are associated with subsequent attention problems and impulsiveness. (more)
 Parental role modelling is a highly important factor.(more)
 Babies and toddlers should learn from play, not screens.(more)


COMMENTARY  on “WE NEED TO TALK” Screen Time in NZ – Media Use: An emerging factor in child and adolescent Health

Source: Family First by Dr Aric Sigman   Released 9 February 2015

New Zealand is blessed with an ideal environment for children and young people to be active and, compared to many other countries, they are. However, this is changing rapidly. Following a global trend, children from infancy are spending greater amounts of time looking at recreational screen media and becoming increasingly sedentary (NIHI 2014).

Discretionary screen time (DST), defined as non-homework and predominantly recreational, is now the main waking activity of children – a lifestyle factor as relevant to health and wellbeing as nutrition and physical activity. High discretionary screen time is increasingly considered an independent risk factor, often exhibiting a dose-response relationship with cardiometabolic disease, psychological problems, unfavourable child development outcomes and adult illness and mortality, ultimately placing greater pressure on health services.

Although screen technology may be a beneficial aspect of modern life, there is growing concern from health and development experts about the disproportionate use in many families’ lives, particularly the young in New Zealand. The main focus of recent medical concern is the premature use and/or overuse of discretionary screen media in children, as their brains and bodies are not yet fully developed. Interventions therefore emphasise delaying the introduction of screen media to very young children and reducing its excessive discretionary use in all children and adults. As a ‘disease prevention objective’, government health departments and medical associations are increasingly issuing guidelines for daily discretionary screen time ‘consumption’.

Yet parents, children and teachers remain unaware of the medical and developmental risks and the position of medical bodies on DST. And the majority of children and adolescents in New Zealand, including toddlers, continue to significantly exceed medical guidelines. Much of the concern regarding screen media is based on the average number of hours a day children spend watching non-homework screen media, now often referred to as the ‘dose’ of screen media ‘consumed’. Reading books on Kindle or a tablet is not the concern under discussion.

This report provides an overview of some of the evidence which has led health.

More on this report on Screen Time




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