It shouldn’t surprise anyone that teens spend a great deal of time looking at screens. In fact, society has been dealing with the issue for decades. The Plug-In Drug, originally published in 1977, discussed the dangers of Little Johnny spending too much time in front of a television. A 2008 study found that 60% of teens spent ~20 hours per week engaged with screens. Even more shocking, students in a 2010 study spent an average of 7.5 hours per day consuming media. Granted, that number includes music, but the point is still valid: teens are spending a lot of time interacting with media, and it certainly doesn’t look like the amount of time spent will decrease any time soon.
In June, a group of researchers from Norway published in BMJ Open about their latest findings concerning teen boys’ screen use. They found that teen boys spent an average of 25 hours per week using screen-based media.
More screen time can lead to poor bone health
Researchers also measured the bone density of study participants. They found that the more time boys spent in front of screens (and to a lesser degree girls) the lower their bone-mineral density.
[quote]Our study suggests persisting associations of screen-based sedentary activities on bone health in adolescence. This detrimental association should therefore be regarded as of public health importance and followed closely, since improvement of peak bone mass is possible.[/quote]
The study does not demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship between screen time and bone density, but the results do seem to have implications for parents as they work to help their children develop strong minds and bodies.
Less time in front of screens is definitely better. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding screen time altogether for those under two years old, and suggests limiting screen time for young children and teens to no more than two hours per day.
So encourage teens to get outside, or to least get away from screens for a time. Their bones will thank them.