Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size

Screen Time Boosts Kids' Blood Pressure

Too Much TV, Computer Use May Elevate Blood Pressure in Young Children
WebMD Health News


Aug. 4, 2009 -- Too much “screen time,” whether it's watching TV, using a computer, or playing a video game, may raise the blood pressure of young children, a new study shows.

This is true even if the children are not obese or overweight, researchers report in the August issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

The researchers say they found -- apparently for the first time -- a link between sedentary behavior and elevated blood pressure in children aged 3 through 8. The findings suggest  that increased media exposure for children may be much worse for children's health than previously thought, the study's co-author Joe Eisenmann, PhD, says in a news release. Eisenmann is a professor in Michigan State University’s Department of Kinesiology and a former colleague of the study's lead author David Martinez-Gomez, BSc, of Iowa State University.

“We’ve known from previous studies that sedentary behaviors are linked to obesity, and that obesity is linked to high blood pressure, but this is the first time that we've linked those behaviors directly to elevated blood pressure,” he says.

Screen Time and Blood Pressure: Examining the Link

The children wore accelerometers -- a tool used for measuring movement -- to help determine how much time they spent on sedentary activities. Parents also reported the average time their children spent playing video games, watching TV, painting, sitting, or taking part in activities requiring little physical movement.

The children spent an average of five hours a day on sedentary activities, with screen time averaging 1.5 hours. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents limit children’s screen time to a maximum of two hours per day.

 The researchers found that children who spent the least amount of time watching television, using the computer, and playing video games had much lower blood pressure levels than those who spent the most time in front of a screen. Other forms of sedentary activity, however, were not significantly related to elevated blood pressure.

“It appears other factors, which occur during excessive screen time, should also be considered in the context of sedentary behavior and elevated blood pressure development in children,” Eisenmann says. “TV viewing often comes with unhealthy snacking behavior, and also can lead to stress responses that disrupt sleep.”

Elevated blood pressure has been increasing among U.S. children, the authors write. They advocate limiting screen time to less than 2 hours per day and balancing that by at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity.

Today on WebMD

preschool age girl sitting at desk
look at my hand
woman with cleaning products
young boy with fever

worried kid
boy on father's shoulder
Child with red rash on cheeks
girl thinking

Child with adhd
rl with friends
Syringes and graph illustration
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Build a Fitter Family Challenge – Get your crew motivated to move.
Feed Your Family Better Challenge - Tips and tricks to healthy up your diet.
Sleep Better Challenge - Snooze clues for the whole family.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply

WebMD Special Sections