Children who watch more than two hours of television a day could be at greater risk of mental illness, a new study suggests.
The research was carried out by a team researchers from the University of Bristol, who studied more than 1,000 children between the ages of 10 and 11.
The children filled out a questionnaire each day for a week, indicating how much time they’d spent in front of a television or computer. They were also asked a number of questions concerning their emotional wellbeing, behaviour and relationships with their peer group.
A daily record was also kept of the physical activity each child had done.
"We know that physical activity is good for both physical and mental health in children and there is some evidence that screen viewing is associated with negative behaviours,” lead researcher Dr Angie Page explained to news agency Reuters. "But it wasn't clear whether having high physical activity levels would 'compensate' for high levels of screen viewing in children."
In the event, the researchers found that regardless of how much physical activity they did during the rest of the day, children who spent more than two hours in front of either a TV or computer screen each day were 60 per cent more likely to exhibit psychological problems. Among children who spent time in front of both, the odds of problems more than doubled.
Psychological problems increased still further in children who took less than an hour’s exercise each day.
The results appear consistent, irrespective of the child’s sex, age, stage of puberty, or their level of educational or economic deprivation.