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Children Spend Too Much Time On Electronic Devices: Study

Infants are spending too much time on screen, says a study

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Children using devices
Researchers have found that the amount of time children are spending each day on screen is increasing at an alarming rate. Pixabay

Researchers have found that the amount of time children are spending each day watching television or using a computer or mobile device is increasing at an alarming rate.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, found that children’s daily screen time increased from 53 minutes at age 12 months to more than 150 minutes at 3 years old.

According to the researchers, by age 8, children in US were more likely to log the highest amount of screen time if they had been in home-based childcare or were born to first-time mothers.

“Our results indicate that screen habits begin early, this finding suggests that interventions to reduce screen time could have a better chance of success if introduced early,” said study senior auhtor Edwina Yeung, NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in the US.

Children screen time
By age 8, children in US are more likely to log the highest amount of screen time. Pixabay

For the findings, the research team analysed data from the Upstate KIDS Study, originally undertaken to follow the development of children conceived after infertility treatments and born in New York State from 2008 to 2010.

Mothers of nearly 4,000 children who took part in the study responded to questions on their kids’ media habits when they were 12, 18, 24, 30, and 36 months of age. They also responded to similar questions when the children were seven and eight years old.

The study compiled additional demographic information on the mothers and children from birth records and other surveys.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding digital media exposure for children under 18 months of age, introducing children 18 to 24 months of age to screen media slowly, and limiting screen time to an hour a day for children from 2 to 5 years of age.

In the current study, researchers found that 87 per cent of the children had screen time exceeding these recommendations.

However, while screen time increased throughout toddlerhood, by age 7 and 8, screen time fell to under 1.5 hours per day. The researchers believe this decrease relates to time consumed by school-related activities.

Children using electronic devices
87 per cent of the children exceed the recommended screen time. Pixabay

The study authors classified the children into two groups based on how much their average daily screen time increased from age 1 to age 3.

The first group, 73 per cent of the total, had the lowest increase, from an average of nearly 51 minutes a day to nearly an hour and 47 minutes a day.

The second group, 27 per cent of the total, had the highest increase, from nearly 37 minutes of screen time a day to about four hours a day.

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Higher levels of parental education were associated with lower odds of inclusion in the second group.

In addition, girls were slightly less likely to be in the second group, compared to boys, while children of first-time mothers were more likely to be in the high-increase group, the study said. (IANS)

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Measles Kills 140,000 people, WHO Calls it “Collective Failure”

WHO Decries 'Collective Failure' as Measles Kills 140,000

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Measles- WHO
A child reacts after receiving a measles-rubella vaccination in Yangon, Myanmar. VOA

Measles infected nearly 10 million people in 2018 and killed 140,000, mostly children, as devastating outbreaks of the viral disease hit every region of the world, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.

In figures described by its director general as “an outrage,” the WHO said most of last year’s measles deaths were in children under five years old who had not been vaccinated.

“The fact that any child dies from a vaccine-preventable disease like measles is frankly an outrage and a collective failure to protect the world’s most vulnerable children,” said the WHO’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus.

The picture for 2019 is even worse, the WHO said, with provisional data up to November showing a three-fold increase compared with the same period in 2018.

The United States has already reported its highest number of measles cases in 25 years in 2019, while four countries in Europe — Albania, the Czech Republic, Greece and Britain — lost their WHO “measles-free” status in 2018 after suffering large outbreaks.

An ongoing outbreak of measles in South Pacific nation of Samoa has infected more than 4,200 people and killed more than 60, mostly babies and children, in a battle complicated by a vocal anti-vaccination movement.

Globally, measles vaccination rates have stagnated for almost a decade, the WHO said. It and the UNICEF children’s fund say that in 2018, around 86% of children got a first dose of measles vaccine through their country’s routine vaccination services, and fewer than 70% got the second dose recommended to fully protect them from measles infection.

Highly contagious

Samoa Measles
A child gets vaccinated at a health clinic in Apia, Samoa. Samoa. VOA

Measles is one of the most contagious known diseases — more so than Ebola, tuberculosis or flu. It can linger in the air or on surfaces for several hours after an infected person has been and gone — putting anyone not vaccinated at risk.

In some wealthier nations, vaccination rates have been hit by some parents shunning them for what they say are religious or philosophical reasons. Mistrust of authority and debunked myths about links to autism also weaken vaccine confidence and lead some parents to delay protecting their children.

Research published in October showed that measles infection not only carries a risk of death or severe complications including pneumonia, brain damage, blindness and deafness, but can also damage the victim’s immune memory for months or years — leaving those who survive measles vulnerable to other dangerous diseases such as flu or severe diarrhea.

The WHO data showed there were an estimated 9,769,400 cases of measles and 142,300 related deaths globally in 2018. This compares to 7,585,900 cases and 124,000 deaths in 2017.

Also Read- UN Aims at Curbing Carbon Emissions Globally

In 2018, measles hit hardest in Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Somalia and Ukraine, the WHO said, with these five nations accounting for nearly half of global cases.

Robert Linkins, a specialist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the data were worrying: “Without improving measles vaccine coverage we’re going to continue to see these needless deaths. We must turn this trend around.” (VOA)