As parents could have probably already have surmised from their own, personal experience, too much screen time on any device can have a detrimental effect on their child’s life.
However, while there have been many studies on the effects of too much screen time on adolescents, there have been limited studies focused on younger children.
Now, thanks to a new study conducted by the researchers at the University of Calgary, there is more empirical data and evidence to observe when it comes to younger children (ages 2-3), as well as the negative effects that too much screen time can have on their cognitive development at such a young and crucial phase in their young lives.
“Taking family-based steps to engage with technology in positive ways may be crucial to ensuring success for our children who are growing up in the digital age.” – Dr. Sheri Madigan, Head Researcher of University of Calgary’s Study
The University of Calgary Study’s Findings
The study, which was lead by Dr. Sheri Madigan, found that two and three-year-olds who spent significant time in front of screens (including tv, tablets, smartphones, and various video game platforms), “failed to meet developmental milestones at later ages.”
The study also concluded that two and three-year-olds who spend a lot of time on screens had increasing difficulty with developing crucial language and communication skills, problem-solving and motor-function-related skills.
According to Dr. Madigan: “Nothing Compares to the ‘Physical Touch’ and Overall Presence of Parents and Caregivers”
When discussing the cognitive development importance of caregivers, Dr. Sheri Madigan, lead researcher of the study, said, “We know that a lot of the positive stimulation that helps kids with their physical and cognitive development comes from interactions with caregivers,”
She went on to add, “When they’re in front of their screens, these important parent-child interactions aren’t happening, and this can delay or derail children’s development.”
Other findings in the study concluded that children who spend too much time on their screens often neglect to develop physical, motor-functioning-related skills that healthy children of their own age develop when engaging in activities such as riding bikes, or playing sports.
Doctor’s Orders: How to Take Practical Steps In Ensuring Your Child’s ‘Screen Time’ is Limited to a Healthy and Manageable One
In order to prevent screen time usage from becoming an issue in children (of any age), Dr. Madigan recommends that parents “create a media plan” that includes limiting screen time usage and “creating device-free zones” within the house, such as the dinner table.
On the topic of parental engagement concerning the usage of modern day technology, and namely, screens of any variety, Dr. Madigan concedes, “Technology is deeply entrenched in modern-day lives.”
However, Dr. Madigan goes on to provide practical advice to parents of young children by adding, “Taking family-based steps to engage with technology in positive ways may be crucial to ensuring success for our children who are growing up in the digital age.”
(this article was originally posted by Science Focus “THE ONLINE HOME OF BBC FOCUS MAGAZINE” as well as, JAMA Networks online scientific journal).
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