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  • Writer's picturePilar

Children, screens and media - Advice for proper handling

In the short term, it may be a relief to keep our children occupied with mobile devices. In the long run, however, it can be detrimental to their health. Recent evidence shows that screen time and sleep deprivation increases the risk of childhood obesity.

Every extra hour children spend on social media or in front of the TV increases the likelihood of binge-eating disorder a year later. This disorder describes regular bouts of cravings and loss of control when eating. These effects could be due to the distraction of the TV, for example food advertising, and the body ideal conveyed in social media platforms.

In addition, lack of sleep increases the risk of obesity as it can establish bad eating habits. Importantly, there may be a link between screen use before bed and poor sleep quality.

I would like to end this alarming and short article with a few encouraging personal tips:

1) Listen to and interact with your child. Extra hours spent on mobile devices to occupy him/her may be the beginning of his/her problems. 2) Avoid letting your child use a screen before going to bed. 3) Enable parental controls in your child's mobile devices. This will help reduce unsafe content, such as food ads, and social media use. 4) Prefer quality screen time to poor quality screen time. Also, set clear times! 5) Motivate your child to be active outdoors.

Reference: Nagata JM, Iyer P, Chu J, Baker FC, Pettee Gabriel K, Garber AK, Murray SB, Bibbins-Domingo K, Ganson KT. Contemporary screen time modalities among children 9-10 years old and binge-eating disorder at one-year follow-up: A prospective cohort study. Int J Eat Disord. 2021 Mar 01.

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