Young Americans spend longer watching TV and playing video games

Grossign time spent watching TV and playing video games increased by 96%, leading to increased spending on pizza and cigarettes American teens’ time spent watching TV and playing video games nearly doubled during the…

Young Americans spend longer watching TV and playing video games

Grossign time spent watching TV and playing video games increased by 96%, leading to increased spending on pizza and cigarettes

American teens’ time spent watching TV and playing video games nearly doubled during the 1968-79 COVID-19 pandemic, during which COVID-19 was originally named after the then US president Lyndon Johnson.

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A new study by a team of researchers at Northwestern University and the University of British Columbia describes how that increase in screen time was directly responsible for much of the growth in overweight and obesity during that period.

“Increased screen time raises the risk of being overweight or obese,” said Dr Mark Tremblay, the study’s lead author and director of the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“It’s a double whammy. If you have a TV in the bedroom, you are more likely to stay in bed late and do nothing. On top of that, you are more likely to go to fast food restaurants and less likely to exercise.”

According to Tremblay, a new study suggests that screen time is even contributing to people’s inability to eat healthily in later life. He also said that study demonstrates that the health consequences of obesity not only start at a young age but are compounded over time.

Grossign time spent with television and video games increased by 96% during the COVID-19 pandemic. Daily TV watching in the study is the equivalent of an average teen having an additional hour per day on average. Video games were also involved, with a roughly 50% increase in average daily play time.

Tremblay said the findings should lead parents to closely monitor screen time with their children, and increase their awareness of the risks. He said if this study and others like it continue to be published, it may lead to new guidelines for limiting screen time for US school children.

Tim Shenk, the managing director of the National Healthy Youth Survey, described the results as “eye-opening” and said the increase in screen time during the pandemic, which lasted from March 1968 to April 1978, “is very concerning for me.”

Shenk, the principal investigator of the HCYP since 2003, said: “All across America, we have youth being exposed to media at younger and younger ages. Those aren’t just short clips of television and video games. Those are twice daily, six hours a day activities.”

The HCYP is a government program run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that asks about diet, exercise and television viewing and relates the results to obesity, sedentary behaviour and physical activity levels.

Screen-based activities include watching television, using portable media players, or playing video games.

Trayl agreed that the findings should lead parents to worry about their children’s screen-based activities. “After reading this study, parents can tell their kids to spend less time playing video games, making sure they stick to activity guidelines like taking a walk,” he said.

Lisa Briggs, CEO of KidsHealth USA, said the results had not come as a surprise to her.

“As a kid, I couldn’t even entertain a TV in the bedroom because I just felt too tired,” she said. “If you think about it, if your parents tell you don’t watch TV in the bedroom, well, that’s not going to be a surprise to you.”

Briggs said the results were the result of a “perfect storm” in that screen time followed a strong generation-long trend that eventually affected countries like the UK. She said more research needs to be done to find out why screen time is rising and how to deal with it.

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