The Ubiquity of the Screen: An Overview of the Risks and Benefits of Screen Time in Our Modern World

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Sedentary behavior, and specifically screen-based sedentary behavior, has been a focus for health researchers, engineers, telecommunications companies, gamers, and the media for many years. In recent years, research in this area has proliferated at an exponential rate. On one side, arguments have been made that screen time is harmful to the healthy growth and development of children and youth. On the other side, modern technology has far surpassed any prediction of success and become a fixture of daily living, making life easier and providing opportunities never thought possible. Regardless, screens have become omnipresent in our society, and it is important to understand the risks and the benefits associated with their use. Excessive time spent in various sedentary behaviors can coexists in a lifestyle that includes sufficient levels of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity, but research has shown that for optimal health benefits, individuals should be both physically active and limit their sedentary behaviors (especially screen time). This narrative review provides a brief history of research on sedentary behavior in the context of screen time, the evolution of screens and screen time, highlights the risks and benefits of screen-based sedentary behavior, and provides experimental evidence for reductions in habitual screen time.

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