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Kids Still Getting Too Much 'Screen Time': CDC

Nearly three-quarters of 12- to 15-year-olds spend 2 or more hours a day watching TV or on computer

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Amy Norton

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 9, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. teenagers are still spending hours in front of the TV and computer every day -- despite years of expert advice that kids' "screen time" should be limited, a new government study finds.

In two national surveys of children aged 12 to 15 years, researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly three-quarters spent at least two hours a day watching TV and using a computer.

The surveys also found that 15 percent of teens watch four or more hours of TV daily, while nearly 12 percent report using their computers for four or more hours a day. The surveys didn't ask teens about their use of smartphones. The findings are published in the July issue of the NCHS Data Brief.

"The findings are concerning, but not surprising," said Dr. Marjorie Hogan, a pediatrician who helped write the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines on kids' screen time.

The AAP has long recommended that children and teens devote no more than two hours to entertainment media each day. That advice is based on research linking more screen time to obesity, higher blood pressure and cholesterol, sleep loss and problems at school.

This latest CDC study found that teenagers' weight did, in fact, correlate with their screen time: Only 20 percent of obese kids were limiting TV and computers to two hours per day -- versus 31 percent of their normal-weight peers.

Hogan said parents have a tough task limiting TV and computers for kids in that 12 to 15 age range -- especially in the age of social media.

"That's why it's so important for parents to begin discussions about media use at an early age," Hogan said.

She added that the AAP recommendations are not intended to "bash" TV or the Internet. Instead, she said, media consumption can be seen the same way as food consumption.

"I like the concept of the 'healthy media diet,'" Hogan said. "It's all about moderation and choosing wisely."

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