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Screens are an essential part of everyone’s life, especially teenagers. During COVID-19, there was a surge in screen time among teenagers due to online classes and ample time to use social media. According to recent data, teenagers spend 7 hours and 22 minutes using screens, which makes up 43% of their waking hours!

Now, you might be wondering how much screen time is considered excessive. And why It’s important to consider the negative impact of excessive screen time on teenagers’ health. Several studies have shown that excessive screen time can lead to the development of many metabolic disorders, including obesity and high blood pressure.

Let’s discuss the negative impact of screen time on teens’ health:

Obesity and Prolonged Screen Time:  

According to a meta-analysis, prolonged screen time (ST) of more than 2 hours per day is positively associated with obesity. The study found a stronger association between obesity and ST from TV and computer viewing. Studies have proved a positive correlation between weight gain and screen time.

Also, there is evidence that too much screen time can increase the risk of chronic metabolic disorders in adults. A recent analysis has summarized the findings of a study and seven similar ones. It was found that for every two hours spent watching TV, there is a 20% increased risk of developing diabetes, a 15% increased risk of developing heart disease, and a 13% increased risk of early death.

Excessive screen time means a long sitting time in front of screens, and fewer outdoor activities can result in a large range of physiological and psychological disorders. New research led by Loughborough University revealed that most British teenagers fail to meet recommended guidelines for sleep, physical activity, and screen time. The research results indicate that only 9.7% of teenagers could fulfill screen time, physical activity, and sleep recommendations.

How do you balance screen time and physical activity for a healthier lifestyle?

In modern life, it’s impossible to avoid screens in our daily lives, and screens can be part of a healthy lifestyle. Teens need to balance physical activity and screen time so it does not interfere with their health and well-being.

Tips to short screen time:

Taking care of your health while using screens for extended periods is important. To prevent this, you can use a timer to set regular breaks.

  • Take a short walk or stretch when the timer goes off.
  • You can also take quick breaks (after reaching a new level) when playing video games.
  • Additionally, keep track of your phone usage daily or weekly, and note the apps you spend the most time on.
  • Look for other extracurricular activities other than video games and watching Netflix. This will help teenagers build new skills and balance screen time.
  • Avoid the use of any screen at least an hour before night. The best solution is to keep your screens out of your bedroom or away from your bed or side tables.

What are physical activity guidelines for UK teens:

Children and young people should aim to do two types of physical activity each week:

  1. aerobic exercise and
  2. exercises that strengthen their muscles and bones.

For those aged 5 to 18, engaging in an average of at least 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity per day spread throughout the week is recommended.

 Various physical activities with different intensities should be incorporated into their routine to develop movement skills, muscles, and bones. It is also important to reduce the time spent sitting or lying down and to break up extended periods of inactivity with some physical activity throughout the day.

Physical activity guidlines for UK teens by NHS

End note:

Teenagers utilize digital technologies for education, entertainment, and socializing. As a result of the limited availability of alternative activities, teenagers tend to spend a substantial amount of their time in front of screens. Therefore, they must regulate their screen usage, and parents or caregivers can aid them in participating in other healthy activities that promote physical and mental growth.

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