Multi-Screen Viewing in UK Children - A Study

by Dr. Reeja Tharu on  April 10, 2012 at 10:46 AM Health In Focus
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A study conducted by Russell et al has revealed that many children using current modern devices engage in multiple forms of screen-viewing simultaneously.

Innumerable children are engaged in this activity 24/7!
Multi-Screen Viewing in UK Children - A Study
Multi-Screen Viewing in UK Children - A Study

What began in the society as TV viewing has now extended to other diverse forms such as computer and video games. TV programs can now be watched on computers and games consoles can easily be used to browse through the internet. Various other combinations of programs and devices are also accessible to children. Sadly, such technological boom has collectively led to sedentary life among modern youth.

Screen-viewing, including watching TV, computer games or internet usage has been linked to increased body mass, worse risk of metabolic syndrome and a dip in the overall well-being among kids and adolescents. A higher mortality rate has also been reported.

Currently sufficient information is not available regarding the nature of screen -viewing in present-day children especially with regard to the advances in technology and the widespread availability of these devices.

The focus of the current study was to evaluate the following -

Types of screen-viewing the participants engaged in

Number of forms of screen-viewing the participants engaged in

Whether the participants ever engaged in more than one form of screen-viewing at any given time

Nature of multiple viewing that was indulged in

Reasons for engaging in multi-screen-viewing activity

Room in the subject's house where the multi-screen-viewing was engaged in and the reasons for using that room.

Sixty-three children between 10 and 11-years who were recruited from five primary schools in Bristol, UK, formed the subjects.

Ten focus group participants were formed through random selection of 3 boys and 3 girls as members of each group. Some students chose to drop out, as a result of which there were only a total of fifty-five students and 4-6 students in each group.

The focus groups were conducted in school classrooms and the proceedings were recorded using a digital recorder. One focus group team member facilitated the groups while another took notes during the group meetings.

The study revealed that multi-screen viewing has become habitual activity among UK children. It involved watching TV as the background behavior, with additional focus on other equipments such as laptop and handheld devices such as a smart-phone.

Three main reasons were noted for children to engage in multi-screen viewing -

1) It was an enjoyable activity

2) Impatience associated with a program- loading was avoided with the help of multi- screen viewing.

3) Unwanted content such as advertisements were filtered out by multi-screen facilities.

Multi-screen viewing activity mostly occurred in the child's bedroom or in the living area of a home. Depending on the participation of the subjects in after-school club activities the level of multi screen viewing and the timings varied.

US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey discovered that adults participating in long periods of time spent sitting has been linked to disastrous health outcomes, while taking breaks in between sitting time is associated to lower waist circumference and reduced C-reactive protein levels.

A high level of screen viewing was observed among UK children, with TV viewing as the backdrop. This was because it was easier to watch TV and engage in another activity, such as playing video games or chatting using a laptop.

High levels of TV viewing among the youth have been associated with increased risk of obesity as adults.

Several organizations have recognized the potential health hazards related to exceedingly high levels of screen-viewing and are seeking to reduce the habit, especially among the youth. Currently there were neither clear-cut methods to assess the level of multi-screen viewing in children nor were there any tested interventional methods available to reduce this habit among children.

In order to achieve moderate viewing there is a need to understand why children indulge in the multi-screen viewing and study the factors that influence it.

The data derived from the study has also reiterated that new strategies must be developed to be able to reduce multi-screen viewing.

Source: Medindia

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