A new Canadian study shows some teens spend 7 hours a day in front of computer and television screens. These findings are similar to the research released earlier this year about U.S. teens.
For parents who fret about the amount of time their kids devote to electronic media, consider this: In Ontario, hundreds of thousands of teens spend nearly seven hours a day staring at a computer or TV screen.
The number surprises even researchers familiar with this growing trend and is likely to take a serious toll not only on adolescents' physical health, but on their emotional and mental well-being as well.
"That's a lot of time spent in front of a screen being sedentary," said Robert Mann, a senior scientist at Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, whose study revealed the new screen-time data. "That's almost a third of the day."
Public health officials such as the Canadian Paediatric Society recommend no screen time for children under two years of age and a maximum of two hours for children older than two.
The new statistic - 9.7 per cent of kids in Grade 7 to 12, or about 327,000 students, spend at least seven hours a day in front of a TV or computer - was released Monday as part of CAMH's annual Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey. (The drug data was released in November.) Dr. Mann, the study's co-principal investigator, says he was surprised by the results of the screen-time question, the first time it was included in the survey.
The study also did not connect screen time and long-term effects on mental health and cognitive function. But Dr. Mann noted that many of the students who logged long hours in front of a screen expressed feelings of unhappiness and experienced loss of sleep.