Friday, 22 February, 2019


High Level Of Screen Time Linked To Delays In Child Development

Experts recommend no screen time for new-born kids up to two-year-olds Experts recommend no screen time for new-born kids up to two-year-olds
Patty Aguilar | 31 January, 2019, 01:31

"What we found in this study is that kids who get excessive screen time are experiencing delays in development", says Sheri Madigan, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Calgary, and lead author of the study.

The more screen time they had, the poorer they scored on developmental tests when they reached age five.

"Parents can minimise risks if screen time is child-appropriate, has educational content, and viewed together with the child", Tomopoulos, who wasn't involved in the study, said by email. At age two, the children on average were spending 17 hours a week in front of screens, which include TV, computer, or other devices.

Talking with your children about screen time is constructive, said Madigan adding parents have to be aware and accountable for their own hours spent on phones and tablets.

"Early exposure to excessive screen time at 24 months was predictive of lower developmental outcomes at 36 months", said Dr. Skyler Kalady, of the Cleveland Clinic.

Higher levels of screen time at ages 2 and 3 wound up significantly associated with poorer performance on developmental screening tests at ages 3 and 5, the researchers reported. For example, when children are observing screens without an interactive or physical component, they are more sedentary and, therefore, not practicing gross motor skills, such as walking and running, which in turn may delay development in this area.

While the study's findings suggest excess screen time can be detrimental for children's development, "what's the tipping point?" These amounts exceed the Canadian Pediatrics Society's recommended pediatric guideline which states that children aged two to five spend no more than one hour per day with high-quality programming, geared towards learning and development.

Canadian researchers at the University of Calgary looked at 2,400 kids when they were two and three-years-old. As a mother of four, the youngest of which are two-year-old twins, she tries to keep their screen time to a minimum: four hours total on weekends, and on most weekdays, none at all. "We would, in the light of this paper, reiterate our advice that families spend time interacting as a family, that screens are not allowed to interfere with sleep, and that screen-based interaction is no substitute for in-person contact", he said. They recommend implementing a family media plan.

The issue of whether screen time is bad for children has become a battlefield.

The group found that negative effects linked to screen time are mostly a result of choosing screen time over activities such as sleeping, eating well, exercising, and socializing, rather than a direct negative effect.

Madigan was supported by the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation and the Canada Research Chairs program.

She added: "Parents should actively encourage their children to engage in a range of activities which promote their child's development and give them as much face-to-face time as possible".

"In fact the data shows that the association with screen time is weaker than that between developmental outcomes and good sleep, reading to the child, and maternal positivity", he said.

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