Impact of Screen Time on Child Development
A recent study found that screen time at one year of age can harm a child’s development.
Japanese researchers found that children who sat in front of the television were more likely to have poor speech and mobility difficulties at ages two and three.
Effects on Development
The team followed 57,980 children to see how screen time affected their ability to walk, talk and solve problems, as well as their social skills.
Dr. Midori Yamamoto from Chiba University noted: “Increasing the amount of time a child spends watching television from the age of one has a negative impact on his or her subsequent development. To reduce the negative effects of excessive media use, health professionals should recommend social media support for parents” who tend to rely on the media.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence suggests children should spend their days without watching TV, with a maximum of two hours of TV time.
He adds that limited screen time for children can be educational, but it’s important to make sure the content is age-appropriate.
Previous research has shown that spending four or more hours a day in front of screens may increase the risk of developmental delays.
The latest study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, focused on how screen time at age one affects risk in later years.
Parents were asked how many hours their children spent watching TV: from zero to four or more hours a day.
Impact on Skills
They were also asked questions about their children’s development, testing their communication, gross movements (such as walking and running), fine movements (such as eating and writing), problem solving, and personal and social skills.
Those who spent more time in front of screens had significantly worse communication skills at age two, and their gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and interpersonal social skills were worse at three years.
Dr. Yamamoto said poor communication may be associated with decreased activity in parts of the brain associated with thinking, emotion, personality, judgment and self-control.
Regarding changes in their ability to walk, she explained: “This may be due to the loss of the opportunity to learn motor and personal skills while looking at screens while seated.”
Independent experts cautioned that the study showed a link between children’s screen time and developmental problems, not that watching TV causes the problems.
Professor Maria del Mar Sánchez Vera from the University of Murcia noted: “At this age we know that the problem is not screens, but the removal of stimuli that children at this age need, whether it is due to technology or other factors.” “Theoretically, the main finding of the study, as noted in the study itself, is to highlight the importance of social interaction for children’s development.”