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Sedentary lifestyles and too much screen time affect children’s wellbeing

Too much time in front of screens – including TV and computer games – combined with a sedentary lifestyle is taking its toll on our children’s wellbeing and increasing their anxiety, according to a new Public Health England briefing paper.

The paper, entitled ‘How healthy behaviour supports children’s wellbeing’, identifies a link between children’s screen time and lower levels of wellbeing, showing that:

  • higher levels of TV viewing are having a negative effect on children’s wellbeing, including lower self-worth, lower self-esteem and lower levels of self-reported happiness
  • children who spend more time on computers, watching TV and playing video games tend to experience higher levels of emotional distress, anxiety and depression

The briefing paper is released as a new Change4Life campaign encourages families to use the back to school period to adopt healthier behaviours – one of which is reducing children’s screen time. ‘Smart Restart’ outlines 5 everyday changes for families to focus on for the next 6 weeks to half term, including reducing screen time, eating healthier lunches and being more active.

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