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Study finds more screen time for children linked to behavioral problems

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Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association for Psychiatry found a link between a greater amount of screen time for children and behavioral problems.

The study from a research team at the University of Calgary looked at dozens of scientific studies to arrive at the conclusion that more screen time may lead to harmful behavior.

For children under 12 years of age, the study said there was a "small but statistically significant" link between screen time and the internalization of anxiety or depression, the externalization of aggression, inattention, and showing defiance.

"There’s a signal there. We’re seeing some association between screen time and behavior problems. It’s not particularly robust, but it’s there," said Dr. Sheri Madigan, a senior author of the paper at the University of Calgary.

She went on to point out that child development is "really multi-determined" and can involve numerous environmental factors like socioeconomic status and parenting styles.

The meta-study involved a review of results from over 160,000 children under the age of 12. For those children who were allowed more screen time, the study said they were 11% more likely to externalize behavioral problems like aggression or inattention. They were also 7% more likely to internalize problems like anxiety and depression.

Madigan also said there appeared to be a difference in how screen time affects boys and girls.

"Essentially we found larger associations between screen time and externalizing problems in boys, relative to girls," Madigan explained.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry says that children in the U.S. aged between 8 and 12 spend 4 to 6 hours per day in front of a screen.

The researchers noted that the studies were conducted before the pandemic when screen time among children skyrocketed because of schools shutting down in favor of online learning.

Here's more about kids screen time:

The Long-Term Effects Of Screen Time On Children www.youtube.com

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