There are scientific studies that show that too much screen time for children is associated with poor cognitive and social-emotional development. When we talk about monitors, we mean smartphones, tablets, televisions, computers and so on.
Often parents do not know the consequences that too much screen time has on the little ones. In particular, we have based this article on a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics by Madigan, S., Browne, D., Racine, N., Mori, C. and Tough, S. (2019) of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The research, called the Association Between Screen Time and Children’s Performance on a Developmental Screening Test, shows several consequences that children suffer from when they use the aforementioned devices too much.
Scientific study of too much screen time for children
We will review the content of the study and its implications in sections. That way, it will be easier to read and understand.
This study followed the development of 2,400 Canadian children. It demonstrated in an experimental way that the more time children spent in front of screens at 2 and 3 years of age, the worse their performance was at 4 and 5 years of age.
The research examined the child’s development in five areas:
- Gross motor skills.
- Fine motor skills.
- Problem solving.
- Social skills.
To assess communicative abilities , for example, they asked the child to form four-word sentences or identify common parts of the body.
For motor skills, on the other hand, they were asked to stand on their feet or put beads on a string. They then decided that the longer these children spent in front of the screens, the worse their performance in these exercises was.
Scientists claim that in the first five years of life, the brain is very sensitive to stimuli. This is known as the critical period. It is actually very important for growth and maturation.
Consequences of too much screen time for children
Everything seems to show that too much screen time for children causes them to miss important opportunities. In general, it may affect the following:
- Social and communicative development (interaction with other people).
- Motor skills as it promotes a sedentary life.
- Development of close ties with people.
- Learning and regulating emotions.
When children look at screens, they may lose the ability to master interpersonal, motor, and communicative abilities as mentioned in the study above.
This therefore leads us to a very serious conclusion: Too much screen time affects children’s development at all levels. That is, it can make them less intelligent, less skilled, and less competent than children who use them rationally and responsibly.
Socio-economic and gender-related variables
According to the study, girls tend to spend less time in front of screens and tend to get better results than boys in the five areas we mentioned above.
On the other hand , the drastic decline in group play, which until recently was the primary source of reinforcement and socio-emotional learning in children, is disturbing. Too much screen time eliminates individual play and group play in children.
Another significant finding in the study is that kindergarten children who were read more aloud to, exercised more, slept more, or had parents with lower levels of depression had much better results.
It also showed that people in the lowest socioeconomic strata spent the most screen time. As a consequence , the children in these population groups were most affected.
Children suffer from the consequences of too much screen time
Although researchers have shown scientific evidence over the past decade that there are harmful consequences of too much screen time for children, this study has shown important results. For the first time, a large study with 2,400 children shows a direct relationship between screens and delayed development.