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Sharp Health News

Screen time and heart health

Aug. 28, 2018

Screen time and heart health

Parents now have another reason to limit their child’s screen time — it could contribute to developing heart disease later in life.

According to research published by the American Heart Association, extensive amounts of screen time are directly related to inactivity and obesity, which is associated with high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Dr. Ahmad Bailony, chief of pediatrics at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, discusses what parents need to know.

What effect does obesity have on a child’s heart and overall health?
One recent report stated that among children 5 to 10 years old with obesity, 60 percent already had one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol levels, high triglycerides (another type of blood fat) and high blood pressure. Cardiovascular-related conditions aren’t the only health problems associated with childhood obesity. Other problems include diabetes, liver issues and social stigmas such as being bullied at school.

How can parents limit or monitor kids’ screen time?
Psychology experts, pediatricians and researchers are in agreement that the first step to managing screen time is to talk to your children about it. Know what your kids watch or play online, and actually participate in it. That way, if you set limits on screen time, your children know you actually have experience with the specific game or app they’re using.

What tips can parents use for kids who fight against screen time limitations?
Try to be positive in your approach. Don’t use screen time as a reward or a punishment. Often parents who go to extremes get the same responses from their children. Try scheduling set plans, such as an errand or social time with friends, at the time when you want device use to end.

According to Dr. Bailony, the risk of being overweight is more than four-and-a-half times greater for children who watch more than five hours of TV or video games a day, compared to children who watch no more than two hours a day. Learn more about the dangers of video gaming.

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