Saturday, 16 February, 2019

Study links high levels of screen time to slower 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
Anna Jefferson | 01 February, 2019, 06:09

Mothers reported on how much time their children spent in front of a television or computer screen on a typical day, and also reported on developmental measures by answering questions about their children's communication skills, behavior and social interactions.

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". This increased to 25 hours a week when the children turned three years old, and 11 hours per week at five years of age.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests no more than one hour of screen time for kids between two and five-years-old.

In a study published today in JAMA Pediatrics, we find a measurable association between how much young children are using screens and how well they are meeting their developmental milestones.

"In this study, we follow children over time and showed that higher levels of screen time when kids are 2 and 3 years of age predict poorer outcomes when these same children are 3 and 5 years of age, respectively", she said.

Researchers found that greater screen time at 24 and 36 months was significantly associated with "poorer performance" on developmental screening tests at 36 months (β -0.08, 95% CI -0.13 to -0.02) and 60 months (β -0.06, 95% CI -0.13 to -0.02).

"It looks at communication skills, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving, and the social and emotional skills". 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. For instance, young children may be missing opportunities to practise walking or to interact with their caregivers.

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Overall, "the good news is that screen time is something parents can control", Gentile said. And research shows that 98 per cent of children are now living in a home with an internet-connected device, with kids spending a considerable amount of their time online.

But, while the temptation to keep rowdy children quiet using TV and digital devices can be strong, parents need to focus on what's really important.

She added that screens can also be used in a positive way, if the screen time is in moderation and when it's shared as a family. "We're living in busy modern times, and our attention is often pulled in numerous directions, resulting in less time for parenting", Dimitriu said.

Kalady said it's helpful to set up limits and expectations early, because it's easier to start off with healthy screen time habits than it is to scale back once you've already begun.

Experts said parents should keep those statistics in mind while children are stuck in the house for most of the week due to risky winter weather.

The authors say parents should be cautious about how long children are allowed to spend with devices.

"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". "When parents watch with their children, they can point out interesting things and contribute to language skills and learning". What they found, unequivocally, is that it's the excess screen time that causes the delays.

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