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  • Luisa Scherer

Balance with technology: how to find it?

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

Physical activities, limited screen and technology time and a good night sleep reduce impulsive behavior in children

The article Association between 24-hour movement behaviour and impulsivity in American children, published in the American Academy of Pediatrics, showed that balancing physical exercise, limited screen time and a good night sleep can reduce the rates of impulsive behavior in children, as well as present other benefits.

Impulsive behaviours

Impulsive behaviors in children are reflections of anxiety: impatience, when the child interrupts other people, when the child talks, screams or laughs at inappropriate moments, or when they put themselves in hazardous situations without thinking. It’s worth remembering that these behaviors are normal and are part of all children’s development, but it’s necessary to observe when they occur with exaggeration and too much frequency. Children who have these exaggerated impulsive behaviors are usually labeled as “troublemakers” at school or even at home. If you live together with a child who exhibits this type of behavior, avoid using labels of any kind.

Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth

The study is based on the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth, a initiative of the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology that brings guidelines based on evidence with habits that highlight the integration of all movement behaviors that occur throughout an entire day. The guidelines encourage children and young people to “sweat, step, sleep and sit” in the quantity indicated and considered beneficial in the course of 24 hours.

The guidelines were developed by the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Group (HALO) of the The Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP), ParticipACTION, The Conference Board of Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada and a group of researchers from the whole world, with the participation of over 700 Canadian and international participants.

The guidelines of the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth suggest that children between 5 and 17 years old should practice moderate to high physical activities for at least one hour a day; not exceed two hours a day of screens for recreational purposes; and sleep from 9 to 11 hours a night.

How does the 24-hour movement Guidelines for Children and Youth interfere in children’s impulsive behavior?

HALO researchers analyzed data of over 4,500 children. The data contained self reports categorized in 8 competences that characterize impulsive behavior or not. These competences evaluate patterns such as to leave a task unfinished or to act irrationally in the face of negative emotional states.

The study showed that children who follow the three guideline recommendations scored positively on all competences and had higher positive scores in 5 out of the 8 competences in relation to children who didn’t follow the guidelines recommendations, concluding that the balance of the sleep, screen time and physical exercise triad can reduce disorders related to impulsiveness.

Furthermore, the results suggest that children who follow the three guideline recommendations have better cognitive functions; less chances of developing obesity; better diet and better quality of life in relation to children who don’t follow any of the recommendations.

Both the research itself and its results are quite significant, since the amount of children and data collected is relevant. It is difficult to find research projects with samples and database this big, and the results only prove the success of the research.

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