Published: Thu, January 31, 2019
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Can Too Much Screen Time Hinder Child Development?

Can Too Much Screen Time Hinder Child Development?

"Excessive screen time can impinge on children's ability to develop optimally", they write. The scientists made the kids take a coordination test, among others, to probe how screen time affects children.

Researchers tested children involved in the study, and found they were failing to meet developmental milestones in language and communication, problem-solving, and fine and gross motor skills. A new study found that children spending a lot of time staring at screens when they are two and three could lead to poor development when they are between three and five.

By law, childcare centers in West Virginia are prohibited from using screen media under the age of two and screen time is limited to 75 hours a week for each school-aged child.

That's according to a new study by the University of Calgary that examined the screen-using habits of nearly 2,500 Albertan children over a five year period.

As we more and more become people of screens and digital media, questions surrounding both the benefits and dangers of screen time also grow in number and variety. "When children are in front of screens, the important parent-child interactions aren't happening".

In an e-mail, Dr. Max Davie, officer for health promotion for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in Britain, said the latest study shows only "a weak association between screen time and developmental outcomes".

Overall, mothers reported their children spent a mean 2.4 hours a day on screens at age 24 months, 3.6 hours a day at 36 months, and 1.6 hours a day at 60 months, they reported.

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Experts recommended no screen time for newborns all the way to two-year-olds, and then only one hour per day for kids older than that.

"One of the primary concerns around parents these days is about screen time and we wanted to find out more about its importance, especially in early childhood years when their brains are developing so rapidly and presumably the impact of screens can be considerable", Madigan told MedPage Today. She is research chair of child development with the University of Calgary's department of psychology, in Canada.

The opposite association - poorer developmental progress leading to more screen time - was not observed. That also includes computers, gaming devices, and even TVs.

In fact, excessive screen time is believed to a be a contributing factor in the growing problem of school readiness-an estimated one in four Canadian children are starting kindergarten inadequately prepared for learning.

As for the parents who have already fallen into the pitfalls of too much screen time for their young children, Madigan stresses they need not despair. What they found, unequivocally, is that it's the excess screen time that causes the delays.

"For those exceeding guidelines, parents can buffer some of the negative effects of screen time by ensuring it does not interfere with adequate sleep (which it often does in older children and youth), daily physical activity or active play, and plenty of enriching, stimulating and positive face to face interaction with parents and caregivers, and of course other children", Goldfield added. Parents should also choose high-quality shows and watch them with their children.

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