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Screen time and teen time

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© iStockphoto / Arthur Carlo Franco © iStockphoto / Arthur Carlo Franco

(HealthDay News) -- A new study challenges the widely held belief that spending a lot of time playing video games, using the computer or watching TV is harmful for teens.

The study analyzed data from the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey on Florida teens, average age 16. The findings showed only a small association between high amounts of so-called screen time and increased risk of depression, delinquency and poor school performance.

Specifically, screen time accounted for 0.49 percent of the variance in delinquency, 1.7 percent in depressive symptoms and 1.2 percent in average grade points. There was no link between screen time and risky driving, risky sex, substance abuse or eating disorders.

"Although an 'everything in moderation' message when discussing screen time with parents may be most productive, our results do not support a strong focus on screen time as a preventative measure for youth problem behaviors," said study author Christopher Ferguson, of Stetson University in Deland, Fla.

The study was published online recently in the journal Psychiatric Quarterly.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently dropped a recommendation that youths' screen time be limited to two hours a day.

Rather than placing strict limits on time spent online, watching TV or playing video games, parents should focus more on positive use of screen time, such as for learning, Ferguson suggested in a journal news release.

"Screens of various sorts are increasingly embedded into daily life, whether they involve education, work, socialization or personal organization," he said.

"Setting narrow limits on screen time may not keep up with the myriad ways in which screens have become essential to modern life," he concluded.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics explains how to develop a family media plan.

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