Previous blogs have provided information about the detrimental effects that screen time can have on children. “The National Institute of Health and the American Association of Pediatrics have issued warnings about the adverse effects of screen time, including decreased cognitive skills and language development  for preschool children.” The consequences of excessive use of digital devices range from the risks of sedentary lifestyles to delayed cognitive development. Two years ago, The National Institute of Health published a  review about the effects of screen time on the adolescent brain that provided some sobering information: 1) frequent  use of screen time relates to less efficient cognitive control 2)repeated screen time amplifies the need for short-term gratification. 3) neuro-scientific research necessary to understand the underlying causes is still at the beginning. 

The Education Hub has recently published “5 Things to Know about Screen Time and Early Childhood.”    

                               1.Screen time is linked to delays in developmental milestone

                              2. A majority of young children’s screen time exceed pediatric guidelines.

                              3.The presence of technology has reduced children’s sleep,as well as the amount of time                                                parents spend reading to them. 

                             4. Screens are too often used as babysitters or pacifiers, inhibiting children’s ability to learn                                            to  self-regulate.

                        5.Tablet apps may not be as educational as originally claimed, and some may distract from                                               learning. 

A recent review in a pediatric journal provided statistics regarding babies’ introduction to digital devices. “In the United States, most 2-year olds use a digital device daily, and 9 of every 10 children are introduced to a device before their first birthday. One recent study reported a 60% rate of touchscreen device use in children younger than 3.”

And now, the August 2023 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) features a study of over 7000 babies that identifies specific effects of babies’ digital exposure. It concludes: “Greater screen time for children aged 1 year was associated with developmental delays in communication and problem-solving at ages 2 and 4 years.” 

Some parents may think that their children’s early introduction to digital devices will give them the edge regarding technology, but others express concern. According to a Mott Children’s Hospital poll two-thirds of parents surveyed say “overall screen time, followed by media overuse and internet safety are major concerns.” 

Does anyone need more reasons to take those smartphones out of children’s hands?

Laura Maniglia