Teens Suffering from Concussions Could Benefit from Screen Time

December 6, 2022 12:51:43

As mobile phones, social media and apps have taken center stage in our lives, several experts have become increasingly worried about the amount of time the average person spends looking at screens. On average, people around the world spend nearly seven hours daily on their screens, with the average American spending an average of seven hours and four minutes every day on their screens. Gen Z, the generation that grew up with the internet, spends up to nine hours per day looking at screens.

But while studies show that too much screen time can have negative effects on adolescents and children, recent research reveals that there are some instances where screen time can be beneficial. A study, which was published in “American Academy of Pediatrics, suggests that screen time can help teenagers who sustained concussions recover from their head injuries. Traditionally, experts recommend refraining from strenuous physical activity after a concussion and resting for a few days to speed up recovery.

Now, researchers from the University of Calgary and the University of British Columbia say that adding two to seven hours of screen time across different devices can aid in concussion recovery. The researchers analyzed 700 patients aged 8 to 16 after a concussion and found that those who had a moderate amount of screen time (two to seven hours) per day recovered from their head injuries faster. Molly Cairncross, PhD, an assistant professor from Simon Fraser University, said that devices include televisions, computers and mobile phones.

Of the patients surveyed for the study, those who had less than moderate screen time in the seven to ten days after injury reported experiencing more concussion symptoms, including fatigue and headaches throughout the first month compared to those who had moderate screen time.

However, both sets of patients reported nearly identical symptoms after the first month, indicating that screen time may have minimal impact on the long-term recovery of pediatric concussion patients.

This research is in direct contrast with a 2021 study carried out by University of Massachusetts Medical School researchers, which found that screen time slowed concussion recovery. In the 2021 study, concussion patients aged 12 to 25 who had zero screen time in the first 48 hours of recovery reported remarkably shorter symptom durations (three to five days) compared to those who did not abstain from screen time (eight days).

According to Cairncross, the opposing results of the two studies may be due to “differences in study design,” with the 2021 study measuring screen use of the first 48 hours and concussion recovery over 10 days while the recent study was more focused on screen time in the first seven to 10 days and followed patient recovery over a six-month period.

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