Two hours in front of a computer or television is bad for children's mental health, no matter how physically active they are otherwise, researchers claim.
The University of Bristol interviewed 1000 children, monitoring their psychological well-being and physical health.
“Whilst low levels of screen viewing may not be problematic, we cannot rely on physical activity to 'compensate' for long hours of screen viewing," said study author Dr Angie Page, of the University of Bristol’s Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences.
“Watching TV or playing computer games for more than two hours a day is related to greater psychological difficulties irrespective of how active children are,” she added.
The mental health problems seen by the researchers include emotional and social difficulties, as well as behavioural issues such as hyperactivity.
The study, published in Pediatrics, suggests cutting the amount of time children spend in front of screens.
However, Page admitted to Reuters that the study depended too much on the testimony of ten-year-olds, who might not fill out surveys accurately.
Others claimed the study didn't go far enough - but still suggested the end recommendation was valid. Stanford researcher Dr Thomas Robinson, said the research didn't prove that screen time was the cause of mental problems in children.
"They would have needed to do an experiment, a randomised controlled trial, to see whether limiting television or computer time improves psychological difficulties when compared to a control group that does not limit screen time," he told Reuters, adding his own research suggested cutting screen time helped children lose weight and lowered their aggression levels.
"There are already lots of reasons to reduce kids' screen time and this is potentially another," said Robinson, recommending children spend no more than an hour a day in front of a screen.
This article originally appeared at pcpro.co.uk