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Physical Activity Reduces Children’s Risk of ADHD Linked to Longer Screen Times
People of all ages are spending more of their day looking at their phones, computers and television screens, but parents now have another reason for limiting how much screen time their children get — it could lead to behavioral problems.
According to a new study from the University of Alberta, younger children who receive two or more hours of screen time per day were nearly six times more likely to have poor attention spans and other behavioral problems than their peers who spent just 30 minutes on a screen at most each day.
The children were also 7.7 times more likely than their peers to develop the symptoms associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Further, the researchers suggested that longer screen times could outweigh other risk factors for behavioral problems such as parental stress, the amount of sleep children get and certain socioeconomic issues, The Globe and Mail reported, possibly because it detracts from risk-reduction factors like a good night's sleep.
"Our data suggests that more screen time leads to less sleep time," Dr. Piush Mandhane, co-author and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta, told the Daily Mail.
The researchers did find an important factor that actually protected children from the risks associated with longer screen times: structured physical activity.
Children who participated in at least two hours of organized sports each week were significantly less likely to develop behavioral issues, the researchers noted.
"Interestingly, it wasn't physical activity on its own that was protective; the activity needed to have structure," Mandhane told the Edmonton Journal. "And the more time children spent doing organized sports, the less likely they were to exhibit behavioural problems."
For the study, published this week in PLOS One, researchers asked the parents of 2,427 children from cities across Canada to fill out a questionnaire often used to flag possible anxiety, depression, aggressiveness and sleep trouble, among other conditions, when their children turned three and five years old, Newsweek reported. The researchers then asked the parents to report the amount of time their children spent in front of screens as well as how much time they participated in physical activities.
In all, the study found that Canadian three-year-olds averaged 1.5 hours of screen time each day and 1.4 hours by age five. This reflects previous research suggesting that preschoolers in Canada typically get between 1.5 and 3.5 hours of screen time a day, and higher amounts of screen time are associated with hyperactivity and missing developmental targets.
Despite this, the researchers acknowledged their findings are still just associations. They note that the study did not consider whether the specific types of content displayed on the screens had any effect. Experts not involved in the study identified other key limitations as well.
Natalia Kucirkova, a professor of early childhood and development at the Norwegian Center for Learning Environment and Behavioral Research, University of Stavanger, told Newsweek that the researchers relied on parents' self-reported, subjective observations to draw conclusions. Speaking to The Globe and Mail, Michelle Ponti, a pediatrician who chairs the Canadian Paediatric Society's digital health task force, pointed out that the study did not track what kinds of screens the children had or how they were used.
But for the researchers, the findings were enough to suggest that even current Canadian guidelines calling for a one-hour limit on children's screen time is too lenient.
"Children should develop a healthy relationship with screens as young as 3 to 5 years of age," Mandhane told ABC News. "Our data suggests that between zero and 30 minutes per day is the optimal amount of screen time."
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Company Safety Data Sheets on New Chemicals Frequently Lack the Worker Protections EPA Claims They Include
By Richard Denison
Readers of this blog know how concerned EDF is over the Trump EPA's approval of many dozens of new chemicals based on its mere "expectation" that workers across supply chains will always employ personal protective equipment (PPE) just because it is recommended in the manufacturer's non-binding safety data sheet (SDS).
By Grant Smith
From 2009 to 2012, Gregory Jaczko was chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which approves nuclear power plant designs and sets safety standards for plants. But he now says that nuclear power is too dangerous and expensive — and not part of the answer to the climate crisis.
By Brett Walton
When Greg Wetherbee sat in front of the microscope recently, he was looking for fragments of metals or coal, particles that might indicate the source of airborne nitrogen pollution in Rocky Mountain National Park. What caught his eye, though, were the plastics.
In a big victory for animals, Prada has announced that it's ending its use of fur! It joins Coach, Jean Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood, Michael Kors, Donna Karan and many others PETA has pushed toward a ban.
This is a victory more than a decade in the making. PETA and our international affiliates have crashed Prada's catwalks with anti-fur signs, held eye-catching demonstrations all around the world, and sent the company loads of information about the fur industry. In 2018, actor and animal rights advocate Pamela Anderson sent a letter on PETA's behalf urging Miuccia Prada to commit to leaving fur out of all future collections, and the iconic designer has finally listened.
If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.
"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."
The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.
The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.
The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.
"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."
Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.
"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."
Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.
"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."
- Reduced Work Hours as a Means of Slowing Climate Change ›
- How working less could solve all our problems. Really. | ›
- Needed: A shorter work week – People's World ›