Screen time, although generally sedentary in nature, measures exposure to electronic screens such as phones, televisions, or computers (1). This specific sedentary activity seems to be on the rise. The time spent viewing media screens is increasing rapidly and has become the second most common type of sedentary behavior, behind adult sedentary jobs (2).
WHY LIMIT SCREEN TIME?
Increased time in front of a screen means less time being physically active, contributing to higher weight and BMI, increased caloric intake & unhealthy food choices. Studies have found that children may choose more active options if they are not watching TV. Additionally, children commonly eat more when they are watching TV, especially if they see ads for food. Commercials and other screen advertisements can lead to unhealthy food choices because most of the time, foods in ads that are aimed at children are high in sugar, salt, or fats. Limiting screen time can help children maintain a healthy weight as they grow.
While both sedentary behavior and screen time contribute to obesity due to lack of physical activity, there are numerous other conditions associated with screen time. According to social learning theory, children and adolescents learn by observing and imitating what they see on the screen, particularly when these behaviors seem realistic or are rewarding. Children 8 years and younger have not yet cognitively developed an understanding to comprehend persuasive content making them more vulnerable to advertising (3).