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Teens spend too long on screens: Medical Journal of Australia

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Shocking research shows most Australian teens sit on screens for too long and don’t eat OR sleep well

  • Research shows that 86% of teens exceeded screen time guidelines
  • Medical Journal of Australia study found it’s getting worse
  • Being stuck to the screen for too long leads to poor nutrition and chronic diseases










Most Australian adolescents spend an inordinate amount of time glued to their screens, a habit that could put them on a path to developing chronic diseases.

A survey of 11-14 year olds found that nearly 86 percent of them exceed the national recommended guidelines of no more than two hours of sedentary recreational screen time per day, not counting time spent on schoolwork.

The study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, asked 6,640 years of seven college students to complete an online survey about their physical activity, sedentary recreational screen time, sleep and diet, as well as alcohol and tobacco use.

It found that 85.9 percent of them exceeded the recommended screen time for television and electronic devices, nearly 78 percent did less than the recommended hour of exercise per day, and 61.3 percent did not get enough sleep.

It is recommended that 13-year-olds get nine to 11 hours of sleep a night, and 14-17-year-olds eight-10 hours.

More than half of the students also indicated that their diet was poor.

Associate Professor Leigh Tooth, Principal Research Fellow at the University of Queensland, praised Champion and colleagues’ research, which found that the numbers got worse when it came to screen time.

“When the government first issued screen time guidelines, social media was no such thing,” she said.

“Now just about every kid has a smartphone and they’re getting younger.

“It’s here to stay, it’s not possible to ban it, so we have to manage it.

“If they’re going to spend time on screens, let’s make sure that time is as enriching as possible.”

Ass Prof Tooth said GPs could play a role in guiding conversations about healthy lifestyles.

“We’re talking about diet, screen time, body weight, physical activity, sleep, substance abuse – they all play a part, and if the balance isn’t right, the trajectory a child can take in terms of their risk of developing chronic disease can change,” she said.

Those factors were one of the main drivers for the development of chronic diseases, occurring earlier, sometimes as early as adolescence.

GPs were also given the opportunity to make parents aware.

“A child will model his parents. If the parent is on the phone 24 hours a day, not exercising, eating poorly, the child will see that.”

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