Time on screens could cause delays in pre-school learning

Time on screens could cause delays in pre-school learning

"What too much screen time leads to is a variety of missed opportunities for learning and development", says Madigan. "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.

Still, it adds to a growing body of evidence linking limited screen time to better cognitive, physical and psychological development in early childhood, said Gary Goldfield, a researcher at the University of Ottawa who wasn't involved in the study.

Approximately 2,400 mothers from Calgary, Alberta reported on the amount of screen time their children consumed. 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.

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

Published this week in the pediatric journal of the American Medical Association, researchers looked at the screen time habits of a group of 2 year-old-children and their development.

When kids do get screen time, it should be high-quality programming that's designed with development in mind, said Dr. Suzy Tomopoulos of Hassenfeld Children's Hospital at NYU Langone and Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City.

At two years, three years, and five years, mothers were asked to record how much time their child spent using screens, including time in front of the TV, computer or other devices.

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These tests included measures of their communication skills (for instance, forming full sentences), gross motor skills (running and walking), fine motor skills (tying shoelaces or copying letters), as well as problem-solving, and personal and social skills (serving themselves food).

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

Are you able to control snacking during screen time? "This study shows that, when used in excess, screen time can have consequences for children's development. 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.

Madigan recommends parents learn more about screen time guidelines for children.

The study also showed an association between excessive screen time and negative physical, behavioral and cognitive outcomes for the children tested. Both effects are equally detrimental for the children say the researchers. "Media and device plans can help families decide when, where, and how often screens will be used".

While allowing energetic or unruly children to watch videos or play with electronic devices may calm them down, too much screen time can impact their mental development.

"The majority of children of all ages exceed the screen time recommendations, so parents have to be more strict setting healthy limits", Goldfield said by email.

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