Study links excess screen time with learning challenges

Study links excess screen time with learning challenges

"Parents should also be aware of how much time they are spending on their screens in front of their children", Dr. Dubicka added. 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. "This exceeds the recommended guidelines of no more than one hour of high-quality programming for kids between the ages of 2 and 5" set by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"The more screen time kids received, the more delayed they are on these developmental outcomes", Madigan said. 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.

Researchers, doctors, public health officials and parents are all trying to make sense of the impact of screen time on children.

Too much time spent watching TV and playing computer games can hold back the development of young children, new research suggests.

Development includes growth in communication, motor skills, problem-solving and personal social skills, based on a screening tool called the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. Lastly, the authors noted that it is possible that since the study was conducted, technology has evolved, causing media consumption to change and have different effects on youth.

Overall, "the good news is that screen time is something parents can control", Gentile said.

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The study wasn't a controlled experiment created to prove whether or how screen time early in childhood might directly impact development outcomes later in childhood.

Researchers say limiting children's time with electronic devices isn't easy, but there are ways to do it.

The study adds to a continuing debate over whether frequent use of video games, televisions and other digital media actually harms children's health and ability to learn. "This means that upwards of 99% of the children's developmental trajectories studied here have nothing to do with screens", Andrew Przybylski, an associate professor and director of research at the University of Oxford's Oxford Internet Institute, said a written statement released by the independent Science Media Centre on Monday. "And, as a generation, we're increasingly pressed for time". They recommend implementing a family media plan.

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. Both effects are equally detrimental for the children say the researchers.

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.

The study seems to contradict a new guide released by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in the United Kingdom earlier this month, which found that many claims about the dangers of screen time may be exaggerated. When children use their bodies to explore and react to the things around them, the visual and tactile input to their brains is more significant, compared to swiping objects on the phone. 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.

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