One-year-olds exposed to more than four hours of screen time a day experienced developmental delays in communication and problem-solving skills at ages 2 and 4, according to a study published today in The Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics.
Research also found that 1-year-olds who were exposed to more screen time than their peers showed delays at age 2 in developing fine motor and personal and social skills. But these delays appear to disappear by age 4.
The study did not find that screen time was the cause of developmental delays but, instead, found an association between babies exposed to more screen time and their developmental delays . That pattern can be explained by the value of face-to-face time for children, experts say.
Why It Matters
David J. Lewkowicz, a developmental psychologist at the Yale Child Study Center, says that face-to-face interaction between parent and child is important in providing infants with a wealth of information, including about how facial expressions , words, tone of voice and physical feedback all combine to convey language and meaning.
“It doesn’t happen when you’re watching the screen,” he said, adding that he wasn’t surprised by the research results.
The findings, conducted by scholars in Japan, were drawn from questionnaires about development and screen time, given to parents of nearly 8,000 young children. In general, infants exposed to higher levels of screen time were found to be children of first-time mothers who were younger, and had lower household income and education levels, and those who suffered postpartum depression. (Only 4 percent of infants reported being exposed to screens for four or more hours a day, while 18 percent had two to four hours of screen time a day and the majority less than two time.)
The study noted a “dose-response relationship” between screen time and developmental delays: The more screen time babies were given, the more likely they were to show developmental delays. – development.
The study’s authors noted that the research does not distinguish between screen time intended to be educational and screen time that is more focused on entertainment. Future studies, the researchers added, should explore that angle.
said Dr. Lewkowicz says parents regularly ask her how much screen time is the right amount. Her answer: “Talk to your child as much as you can, face-to-face as much as you can,” she says.
To ask parents to avoid all screen time from their babies is impractical, he said: “No parent is going to listen to that. It just needs to be in moderation. With a heavy dose of real-life interaction with society.”