However, only one in 20 U.S. children aged between 8-11 years meet the three recommendations advised by the Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines to ensure good cognitive development - 9-11 hours of sleep, less than two hours of recreational screen time, and at least an hour of physical activity every day.
"Based on our findings, paediatricians, parents, educators, and policymakers should promote limiting recreational screen time and prioritising healthy sleep routines throughout childhood and adolescence", Walsh added.
Only one in 20 children met the Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines, which include 9 to 11 hours of sleep, spending less than two hours per day on screens and engaging in physical activity for at least one hour per day.
The study couldn't prove cause-and-effect, but the more individual recommendations a child met, the better their ability to think and reason. While about half met the sleep recommendation, only 37 percent met the guideline for limited screen time and 18 percent met that for physical activity.
Although the report was focused on children in the US, Walsh says the findings could be applicable in any country.
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Using screen devices for fun activities such as playing games or watching videos was referred to as recreational screen use.
"We really had an opportunity here to look at how meeting each of these guidelines and meeting all of the guidelines relate to cognition in a large sample of American children". "In the case of evening screen use, this displacement may also be compounded by impairment of sleep quality".
While the observational study captured a snapshot of a child's cognitive abilities, and only showed an association between reduced screen time and higher mental performance, it did not establish a causal link, according to the BBC. She was not involved in the study. Google has also introduced new features to limit screen time and monitor use on Android devices.
"The link between sedentary behaviours, like recreational screen time, is unclear as this research is in the early stages and it appears to vary depending on the types of screen-based activity". "However, these behaviors are never considered in combination", said Jeremy Walsh, lead author of the study and a former post-doctoral fellow at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, where the research was carried out.