The Texas-based American Heart Association, the country's oldest and largest voluntary organization of this kind, said in a statement that when kids and teens spend too much time on screen-based devices, it could cause sedentary behavior that can lead to weight gain and obesity.
The statement was developed by a panel of experts who reviewed existing scientific documents and evidence to provide an overview of a topic related to cardiovascular disease or stroke, which is more seen on the obese people.
The experts found that while time spent in front of the TV has decreased among younger people, the overall time kids spend using screen-based devices has increased substantially.
Over the last 20 years, TV viewing by children and adolescents has declined but the recreational use of other screen-based devices, such as smart phones, tablet computers and others, has resulted in a net increase in screen time overall.
Current estimates are that kids and young people between 8 to 18-year-olds spend more than seven hours using screens daily. The association urged parents to take steps to limit screen time of their children.
Tracie Barnett, a researcher at Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center in Montreal, Canada, and the chair of the writing group, stressed the American Heart Association's recommendation for children and teens to get no more than 1-2 hours of recreational screen time daily.
"Given that most youth already far exceed these limits, it is especially important for parents to be vigilant about their child's screen time, including phones," the researcher said.
According to Barnett, more research is needed because the patterns of screen-based media use and their long-term effects on children and teens are not yet known.