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Comput Human Behav. 2014 Jun;35:364-375.

Media and technology use predicts ill-being among children, preteens and teenagers independent of the negative health impacts of exercise and eating habits.

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1
California State University, Dominguez Hills, United States.

Abstract

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under the age of 2 and limited screen time for all children. However, no such guidelines have been proposed for preteens and teenagers. Further, research shows that children, preteens, and teenagers are using massive amounts of media and those with more screen time have been shown to have increased obesity, reduced physical activity, and decreased health. This study examined the impact of technology on four areas of ill-being-psychological issues, behavior problems, attention problems and physical health-among children (aged 4-8), preteens (9-12), and teenagers (13-18) by having 1030 parents complete an online, anonymous survey about their own and their child's behaviors. Measures included daily technology use, daily food consumption, daily exercise, and health. Hypothesis 1, which posited that unhealthy eating would predict impaired ill-being, was partially supported, particularly for children and preteens. Hypothesis 2, which posited that reduced physical activity would predict diminished health levels, was partially supported for preteens and supported for teenagers. Hypothesis 3, that increased daily technology use would predict ill-being after factoring out eating habits and physical activity, was supported. For children and preteens, total media consumption predicted illbeing while for preteens specific technology uses, including video gaming and electronic communication, predicted ill-being. For teenagers, nearly every type of technological activity predicted poor health. Practical implications were discussed in terms of setting limits and boundaries on technology use and encouraging healthy eating and physical activity at home and at school.

KEYWORDS:

Attention; Children; Electronic communication; Exercise; Food consumption; Health; Ill-being; Media; Obesity; Physical activity; Preteens; Screen time; Technology; Teenagers; Television; Video gaming

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