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High Level Of Screen Time Linked To Delays In Child Development

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Findings of a new Canadian study have found a link between high levels of screen time and delayed development in children.

Toddlers On Average Exceed Recommended Screen Time

In their study, Sheri Madigan, from the University of Calgary, and colleagues surveyed about 2,400 mothers for the amount of screen time their toddlers spend. They also completed questionnaires that assess their child's development.

At age two, the children on average were spending 17 hours a week in front of screens, which include TV, computer, or other devices. This increased to 25 hours a week when the children turned three years old, and 11 hours per week at five years of age.

This amount of time these children spend on screen far exceeded the recommendations of the Canadian Paediatric Society and American Academy of Pediatrics that children between 2 and 5 years old do not exceed more than one hour of high-quality programming per day, or less than seven hours per week.

The researchers found that children who spend more time with screen when they were two years old did worse on tests of development at age three compared with the children who spent little time with the devices.

They found a similar report when they looked at the children's screen time at age and three and compared their development at five years old.

Screen Time And Child Development

The researchers said a clear trend emerged. The more time children spend in front of screen, the worse they did on development tests.

They said that children spending time on screens could be missing important opportunities to hone and master their motor, interpersonal, and communication skills.

"Excessive screen time can impinge on children's ability to develop optimally; it is recommended that pediatricians and health care practitioners guide parents on appropriate amounts of screen exposure and discuss potential consequences of excessive screen use," the researchers wrote in their study, which was published in JAMA Pediatrics on Jan. 28.

Earlier studies already show that heavy screen time may cause premature changes in the brain structure of children. A 2018 study published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health suggests parents should limit their children's recreational screen time to just two hours per day to improve their cognition.

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