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TV and Computers Tied to Less Happy and More Obese Children

Update Date: Mar 18, 2014 02:02 PM EDT

In today's society, people of all ages are using electronic devices more so than ever before, and now according to two new studies, parents might want to be extra strict about the amount of time their children spend in front of digital screens. The researchers are reporting that children who spend more time watching TV or using a computer are generally less happy and more likely to be obese.

"Parents who read these studies should be heartened that they can make a difference in the health and well-being of their children," said Diane Gilbert-Diamond, an assistant professor of community and family medicine with the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth reported by Medical Xpress. She was not involved with either study. "They can reduce the amount of TV and other media that they allow their children to view, and encourage their children to engage in more active play."

In the first study, an international team of researchers monitored around 3,600 children from Europe between the ages of two and six. The children had participated in a health research project for more than three years. The researchers discovered that children who watched more TV were more likely to have jeopardized "well-beings." These children were also more likely to deal with emotional problems and family dysfunction.

In the second study, the researchers examined 213 kids from the Northwest in the United States. The children were aged five, seven and nine. The collected data were concentrated in the time period from 1998 to 2012. Overall, 22 percent of the children on average were overweight. 19 percent were classified as obese. The researchers discovered that if the children had maternal supervision on their screen time, they were more likely to be thinner.

The findings from both studies suggest that monitoring children's screen time could yield positive results for the children. Children who become accustomed to watching less television or spending less time on the computer will most likely keep these habits in the future.

The studies were published in JAMA Pediatrics.

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