Sleep deprived: Too much screen time for Children

June 16, 2016 11:00 am
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Almost a third of Canadian children are sleep-deprived. For many children, this may relate to the excessive time they spend staring at screens. Cassandra Szklarski from the Canadian Press explores this topic in her article.

The ParticipAction Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth found that the amount and quality of sleep children are getting are not sufficient. Dr. Mark Tremblay, lead researcher for the ParticipAction Report Card, states that the children are not moving enough. He suggests that using screens in the bedroom results in low levels of sleep. Low levels of sleep, in turn, leads to fatigue and withdrawal from physical activity the next day.

Findings from the report

The report card gave a D- for children’s physical overall fitness. This grade indicates that only 9% of kids ages 5-17 are getting the recommended daily minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity a day. However, despite the fact that a third of children are not rested enough, they scored a B, a relatively high grade, for sleep. Dr. Tremblay suspects that the high mark may not be accurate, as the sleep data were provided by parents.

Children scored the lowest, an F, for sedentary behavior. Only 24% of 5 to 17 year olds follow the recommendation of a maximum of 2 hours of recreational screen time per day. High school students spend around 8.2 hours in front of a screen on average.

Effects of sleep loss

Tremblay explained that the effects of chronic sleep loss can be severe. They include hyperactivity, obesity, difficulty in problem solving, and even higher risks of depression and suicidal thoughts.

To conclude, the ParticipAction report reveals that more and more kids that are at risk of sleep deprivation. Elio Antunes, president of ParticipAction, states that  “there’s no one easy solution to change the D- to an A, it’s a complex problem that involves a number of factors and involves a number of key stakeholders from parents, obviously, to kids themselves, to policymakers, to schools.”

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This post was written by Helen