Most Young Teens Getting Daily Screen Time

Daily computer and TV use was very common in study of adolescent screen time

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Technology is a powerful tool, but some experts say today's youth may devote too much time to sedentary technology use. A new study measured how much time young teens actually spend in front of a screen.

In the study, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looked at screen time — leisure TV and computer use — in young adolescents.

In 2012, almost all young people between the ages of 12 and 15 used a TV and computer outside of school daily, the researchers found.

"Choose active family entertainment like hiking over sedentary activities."

The study was conducted by Kirsten A. Herrick, PhD, MSc, of the Division of Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, and colleagues.

Spending too much time using devices with a screen is a concern, explained the study authors.

"Excessive screen-time behaviors, such as using a computer and watching TV, for more than two hours daily have been linked with elevated blood pressure, elevated serum cholesterol, and being overweight or obese among youth," the researchers reported.

To examine how much screen time young Americans were getting, Dr. Herrick and team used data from the 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and National Youth Fitness Survey. These surveys asked people from across the US about their TV and computer use — including time spent playing video games — during the previous 30 days.

For this study, Dr. Herrick and team focused on data for adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15.

The researchers found that almost all young people between the ages of 12 and 15 (98.5 percent) reported watching TV daily. A high percentage (91.1 percent) also reported using a computer outside of school on a daily basis.

Dr. Herrick and team noted that several national guidelines recommended that children's screen time be limited to two hours or less per day. This study found that 27 percent of youth between the ages of 12 and 15 met this recommendation. When looking at computer use alone, 80.4 percent of girls in this age group reported getting two hours or less per day, compared to 69.4 percent of boys. 

It is important to note that this study considered a very specific age group, and further research is needed to explore the topic of screen time among a wider age range of children and teens.

This National Center for Health Statistics study was published online in July on the CDC website. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
July 17, 2014
Last Updated:
July 21, 2014