Lead researcher Edward Swing, an Iowa State University psychology doctoral candidate, said the study involved 1,323 children in third-, fourth- and fifth-graders and 210 college-age participants, who exceeded the 2 hours per day of screen time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Those with more than 2 hours of screen time were 1.5 to 2 times more likely to display more than average attention problems.
"There isn't an exact number of hours when screen time contributes to attention problems, but the recommendation of no more than 2 hours a day provides a good reference point," Swing said in a statement. "In our sample, the total average time with television and video games is 4.26 hours per day -- low compared to the national average."
The research team said some speculate that "the MTV effect" may be at work.
"When MTV came on, it started showing music videos that had very quick edits -- cuts once every second or two," Douglas Gentile, an associate professor of psychology at Iowa State, said. "Consequently, the pacing of other television and films sped up too, with much quicker edits."
The findings are scheduled to be published in the August print issue of Pediatrics.