Too Much Screen Time a Damper on Child's Development

Too Much Screen Time a Damper on Child's Development

The Univerity of Calgary studied the effects of screen time for over 2,500 families with children ages 24, 36 and 60 months old. "If parents think that their child is not making expected progress over time, they are likely to think their child spends a lot of time with screens", said Prof Natalia Kucirkova of University College London.

Dr. Madigan and her team examined data from a long-running project called the All Our Families study, which has been tracking thousands of Calgary mothers and their children, starting from pregnancy, since 2008. "The questions change, but at each age it's trying to get at whether children are meeting their developmental milestones", says Madigan. Caregivers reported on the number of hours their kids spent using electronics devices including TVs, smart phones and tablets, video games and other digital mediums. A similar result was found when children's screen time at three years old was compared with their development at five years.

Parents may now have even great reason to fret over their kids' use of mobile devices and viewing habits after research shows how too much screen time could cause a delay in learning when the child enters preschool. The children who were monitored spent, on average, 2.4, 3.6 and 1.6 hours of screen time per day at two, three and five years of age, respectively.

To be clear, "screen time" here isn't just limited to the usual culprits like smartphones and tablets. But before you conclude that this proves how such devices are bad, the study goes into detail on the link between screen time and learning.

The scientists added: "When young children are observing screens, they may be missing important opportunities to practice and master interpersonal, motor and communication skills".

"When you are trying to process information coming at you from screen media, it may be too advanced for you", Radesky told MedPage Today.

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"Excessive screen time can impinge on children's ability to develop optimally", they write.

Is screen time interfering with your child's sleep?

Part of the problem is that toddlers' brains aren't developed enough to apply things they learn from two-dimensional screens to what they experience in three-dimensional life, Madigan said by email. "And, as a generation, we're increasingly pressed for time".

Or were delayed children, who perhaps had more challenging behaviours, being plunked in front of screens more often to help them (and their parents) cope? It provided no recommended time limits on children's use of digital devices, noting that the impact of screen time on young people's well-being was small, when considering other factors, such as sleep, physical activity, eating, bullying and poverty. 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.

"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". Parents should also choose high-quality shows and watch them with their children.

The effect of screen time on children is a hotly debated topic and so far the jury has been out on how significant an impact it has. "You decide how the devices are going to be used, where they're used, how often they're used".

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