Children Screen Time

Fuad Almudahka/ Physiologist
12 October, 2015

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Modernity has a great impact on family choices and the type of suitable entertainment for children.  The rapid advancement in technology makes it even harder for parents to cope with such changes, therefore children nowadays spend more time watching TV and using electronics such as; tablets, smart phones and video games etc. The Scandinavian physical activity guideline was the first to state the importance to limiting screen time for children to 2 hours a day. Furthermore, it recommends against the use of screen time for children under two years old. The Qatari national Physical Activity guideline released in 2014, has adopted these guidelines.

In the Gulf region, the situation is estimated to be much worse. There was a recent study looking at teenagers screen time during a one week period in Saudi Arabia.  The study found that teenagers spend an average of 4 hours during weekdays and 7 hours on weekends. Moreover, we cannot ignore the unhealthy food intake while engaging in screen time. Scientists have suggested that this will have a negative impact on children’s health in the future and lead to the development of sedentary behavior at an early age. The World health Organization (WHO) has classified “Sedentary behavior” as the 4th cause of mortality in the world.

Promoting active living for children is essential. The use of electronic games and smartphones has become a staple part of a child’s entertainment. However some companies have adapted active moving games for children. A good example is the Nintendo Wii games, this type of gaming can be done at home with friends by using active movements to score or accomplish the game. The X-box with screen sensors also has becoming a great option for active gaming.

However, these games do not offer long term benefits. The use is often short and instead of the child becoming involved in outdoor team activities they stay home and mostly likely play in isolation. This type of environment does not support social development skills and the necessary physical motor skills. The ideal physical development for a child has to be in a natural environment, involve social interaction with other children and include outdoor team activities. The parents are responsible for their children, therefore they should make healthy choices for their children especially during early age and we need to keep in mind that, the longer they stay active in childhood the more likely they are to be active in their adult life.





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