Too much screen time is giving kids health problems like obesity and poor motor skills

Stuff 18 January 2019
Family First Comment: Read our 2015 report on this issue

Kiwi children who spend too much time on screens are becoming sicker, more obese, and more likely to be hyperactive, according to a new study.

Commissioned by the Ministry of Social Development, the study also showed young children who exceeded the recommended electronic screen time had poorer motor skills than those who were less exposed to the technology.

Researchers from Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and the University of Auckland analysed the development of more than 5000 children in the New Zealand-first study, using data from the longitudinal study Growing Up in New Zealand.

The researchers found two-year-olds who exceeded the daily screen time guideline of one hour each day were more likely to experience behavioural and health problems at about 4½ years of age.

Ministry of Health guidelines recommend no screen time at all for children under two years, and less than an hour a day for children between two and five years.

The study found children under two years spent an average of 1.5 hours a day on screens, increasing to two hours a day for children aged 3¾ years.

Report author Associate Professor Scott Duncan said those numbers did not surprise the researchers, but the significant health effects of too much screen time did.

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