Children should always have the opportunity to play outside. Today, the outdoor games like four square, tag and jump rope seem to have been replaced by smartphone screens.
According to results from the a Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) study reported by Plos One, adolescent screen-time has been associated with inattention problems in preschoolers. The average screen-time for the children who were five years old was 1.4 hours and the average screen-time for the children who were three years old was 1.5 hours.
The results from this study found that the children who had a screen-time of more than 2 hours per day had an increasing risk of significant externalizing problems and significant ADHD symptoms. However, there was no link between screen-time and aggressive behaviors.
A similar study was conducted within TARGet Kids! primary care research network and they found that mobile media use is associated with expressive language delays in 18-month old children.
Out of the 893 18-month-old children, 77.6% of their parents reported zero mobile media use.
The average screen-time reported for the remaining 200 18-month-old children was only 15.7 minutes.
Those 15 minutes are crucial because they are causing some young 18-month-old children expressive language delays. No amount of quiet or relief when keeping a child entertained is worth developmental problems or delays.
A research study done by JAMA Pediatrics analyzed the association between screen-time and child developmental problems. They found that “excessive screen-time can impinge on children’s ability to develop optimally.”
Screen-time can not only affect the development of children but excessive media use can also affect the child’s sleep and activity.
Another research study by JAMA Pediatrics focused on what the healthy levels of sleep, physical activity and screen-time for children are.
According to this study, it is recommended that adolescents aged 6-12 years old get 9-12 hours of sleep and children aged 13-18 years old get 8 to 10 hours of sleep at night. Both age groups are recommended at least one hour of physical activity and a maximum of two hours of screen-time within a 24 hour period. This specific study does not have a recommended screen-time for children that are 5 years old and younger.
In late April of this year, the World Health Organization issued their own guidelines on this topic for children under the age of five. They strongly recommend that children between the ages of 2 and 4 should have no more than one hour of screen-time per day. Due to the fact that they don’t mention screen-time for children under the age of two and based on the increasing developmental problems in adolescents, it may be best to avoid screen-time all together or limit it as much as possible with children two years old and younger.
A large number of research studies prove that mobile media use and excessive screen-time are linked to developmental problems in children. It is best to limit adolescent screen-time as much as possible and encourage physical activities instead.