Monitoring Kids' Screen Time May Improve Their Behavior

MONDAY, March 31, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Children's sleep, behavior and school work improves when their parents closely track their media use, according to a new study.

Researchers looked at more than 1,300 children in grades three to five in Iowa and Minnesota and found that increased monitoring of the time they spent online, watching TV and playing video games reduced their total amount of screen time.

In turn, this led to children getting more sleep, doing better in school and being less aggressive, according to the study, which was published online March 31 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

More sleep was associated with a lower body-mass index (BMI) in the children. BMI is an estimate of body fat based on height and weight. The researchers also found that closer parental supervision reduced children's exposure to violence on television and in video games.

"Pediatricians, family practitioners, nurses and other health care professionals who encourage parents to be more involved in their children's media may be much more effective at improving a wide range of healthy behaviors than they realize," said study author Douglas Gentile, of Iowa State University, and colleagues in a university news release.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about children and media.

SOURCE: JAMA Pediatrics, news release, March 31, 2014

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