Children's development 'delayed by watching too much TV and computer games'

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The study looked at 2,441 children and their screen time use from birth to age five. While giving children screen time so that parents can do other things is fine, if families want a truly holistic learning experience for their kids, they will need to physically be with them, regardless if its a non-screen or with screen activity.

"Excessive screen time can impinge on children's ability to develop optimally", the study said. "The results show that there is a lasting influence of screen time, especially when children are two to five years old, when their brains are undergoing a period of tremendous development", Madigan says.

Meanwhile the Canadian Pediatrics Society recommends that children between the age of two and five spend no more than one hour a day in front of a screen.

A new study has found that young children who are exposed to high levels of screen time have delays in developmental outcomes such as language, communication, motor skills and emotional health. The children who were monitored spent, on average, 2.4, 3.6 and 1.6 hours of screen time per day at two, three and five years of age, respectively.

Although the researchers did not examine the relationship between screen time and developmental outcomes numerically, they found "a stable association" between screen time and child developmental screening test scores that was not accounted for by other factors, according to the study.

While not the first study to show that too much time spent staring at a screen can impact children's development, it's the first to confirm long-term effects.

Development includes growth in communication, motor skills, problem-solving and personal social skills, based on a screening tool called the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. "When a child is watching a screen, he or she is missing out on the opportunity for walking, talking and interacting with others".

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The study wasn't a controlled experiment created to prove whether or how screen time early in childhood might directly impact development outcomes later in childhood.

Is screen time interfering with your child's sleep? "And, as a generation, we're increasingly pressed for time".

The researchers also tested for reverse causation, that is, they wanted to know whether parents chose to put toddlers with developmental problems in front of screens more than toddlers without developmental problems. As a mother of four, the youngest of which are two-year-old twins, she tries to keep their screen time to a minimum: four hours total on weekends, and on most weekdays, none at all. "Media and device plans can help families decide when, where, and how often screens will be used". Both effects are equally detrimental for the children say the researchers.

"Parents should actively encourage their children to engage in a range of activities which promote their child's development and give them as much face-to-face time as possible".

Most important, just because an association between excessive screen time and poorer child development was found doesn't mean excessive screen time causes poorer development.

Earlier this month, Britain's Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health released its guide on screen time for clinicians and parents, stating there is "essentially no evidence" to support the popular idea that screen time is directly "toxic" to one's health.

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