Toddlers who are glued to a screen at age three are couch potatoes by the time they are five, a study shows.
They move for 40 minutes less each day by the time they start primary school than those who had less screen time earlier in life.
Researchers say the reduced physical activity may contribute to weight gain and poor health. They suggest parents follow World Health Organization guidelines to limit young children’s screen time to one hour a day.
Study leader Dr. Falk Muller-Riemenschneider said: “Reducing screen time in early childhood might promote healthier behaviors and associated outcomes later in life.”
The findings come from a National University of Singapore study of 552 children. Their parents were questioned on how long they spent on screens aged two and three.
At the age of five, the kids wore activity trackers continuously for a week to monitor sleep, rest and activity levels.
Only one in five met the WHO guideline limit.
But those who had used a screen for three hours or more did 30 minutes less light activity, such as walking, and ten minutes less moderate to vigorous activity, such as running, every day. Researcher Bozhi Chen said it supports calls to limit young kids’ screen time.