A new study has revealed that children who spend less time in front of a TV or computer screen tend to get more sleep, be slimmer, do better at school and are better behaved.
The researchers, who were working on an obesity prevention programme, concluded that parental monitoring of the time children spend watching television, playing video games or being online can be highly beneficial for their health.
Published in JAMA Network Journals, the research included data from more than 1,300 schoolchildren in the USA’s Iowa and Minnesota, along with data about the students provided by parents and teachers.
The study backed up widely-accepted theories that less exposure to violence on TV, the internet or video games results in less aggressive children, with better attention spans and better general behaviour.
Iowa State University’s Dr Douglas Gentile, lead study author, said: “The results suggest that increased monitoring by parents reduced children’s total screen time which results in children getting more sleep, doing better in school and having less aggressive behaviour.
“The results suggest more sleep is associated with a lower body mass index.
“More parental monitoring also resulted in less exposure to violence on television and in video games, which was associated with increased positive behaviour and decreased aggressive behaviour.”
He also said: “Paediatricians, family practitioners, nurses and other health care professionals who encourage parents to be more involved in their children’s media may be much more effective at improving a wide range of healthy behaviours than they realise.”
Other studies have reached similar conclusions. Researchers in Australia revealed that children who watch a lot of TV tend to have more family problems.
Deakin University, Melbourne, found that for every hour of screen time, the risk of family life being disrupted is doubled. They also said that these children have poorer emotional wellbeing.