Screen Time Linked to Developmental Delays in Young Children: Study

Excessive screen time during infancy and early childhood has been linked to developmental delays, affecting communication, problem-solving, fine motor skills, and social development, according to a study involving "iPad kids."


Worldsfeed Health Desk: A recent study, encompassing over 7,000 infants and toddlers aged one to four, has uncovered a concerning connection between increased screen time exposure and developmental delays. Termed “iPad kids,” youngsters with extended access to screens exhibit a higher propensity for developmental setbacks, as indicated by a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association of Pediatrics (JAMA).

The comprehensive cohort study, helmed by Dr. Taku Obara from the Tohoku Medical Megabank Project Birth and Three-Generation Cohort Study, closely followed 7,097 pairs of mother and child. The investigation delved into the quantity of time children spent engrossed in tablets, phones, television, or other technological devices, assessing its impact on their cognitive and physical growth.

Within the participant group of 7,097 children, comprising 3,674 boys (51.8%) and 3,423 girls (48.2%), the majority allocated less than two hours daily to screen activities. However, noteworthy proportions devoted two to under four hours (18%) or exceeded four hours (4%) each day. Remarkably, the correlation between screen time and developmental delays was most pronounced in infants with the highest screen exposure.

The findings illuminated that by the age of two, infants dedicating up to four hours daily to screen engagement were three times more prone to encountering challenges in communication and problem-solving skills. For those surpassing four hours, this likelihood escalated to 5.78 times as they progressed in age. Additionally, this extended screen time cohort exhibited a 1.74-fold increase in the likelihood of underdeveloped fine motor skills and double the chance of insufficiently honed personal and social abilities. The researchers notably underscored that the delays were not directly attributed to screen usage but rather to the absence of face-to-face interactions with parents and peers.

The study’s authors acknowledged that their research did not differentiate between screen content intended for educational purposes versus purely entertainment-oriented shows. Aligning with the recommendations of the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the study emphasized the significance of limiting screen time to a maximum of one hour daily for children aged 2 to 5 years. Moreover, the AAP guidelines advocate for abstaining from screen exposure before 18 months of age.

In essence, the study shines a spotlight on the concerning association between excessive screen time during infancy and early childhood and subsequent developmental delays. While the study doesn’t propose direct causation, it underscores the imperative for parents and caregivers to strike a balance between screen engagement and crucial face-to-face interactions to foster holistic development in young children.

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