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Majority of Adolescents Watch too much TV

Update Date: Jul 09, 2014 10:23 AM EDT

Watching too much television can be detrimental to one's health, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have issued recommendations informing parents how many hours children should ideally watch per day. Despite these guidelines, a new study found that only around one in four children watched the recommended amount of TV per day.

For this study, researchers from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) examined the amount of time that adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15 spent in front of a TV or a computer screen. They discovered that only 27 percent of the kids in this age group spent two hours or less watching TV and playing with the computer per day. Seven percent of children stated that they watched more than five hours of TV each day while five percent reported spending more than five hours per day on the computer. In contrast, less than two percent of kids stated that they did not watch any TV and nine percent of kids did not use computers.

"We don't know, for example, how kids would have categorized watching TV on a cellphone. Technology has outpaced our ability to capture (usage), so we might have an overestimation or an underestimation. We're really not sure," the lead authors of the report, Kirsten Herrick, an epidemiologist with the NCHS stated according to USA Today.

Herrick and colleagues had used data taken from the 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the 2012 NHANES National Youth Fitness Survey. The data revealed that as TV and computer use increased, so did weight. However, this finding did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship. The researchers added that 99 percent of adolescents watched TV daily while 91 percent of them used a computer everyday outside of the school setting. There were no major differences in how often boys and girls used entertainment media.

The AAP recommends only one to two hours of entertainment media use for day for children and teens. Ideally, the type of media should be "high quality." The data brief, "TV Watching and Computer Use in U.S. Youth Aged 12-15, 2012," can be accessed here.

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