New Canadian research has linked increased screen time with delayed improvement in children, adding new fuel to the debate over how long is just too long for youths to spend in front of their electronic devices.
Researchers from the University of Calgary, University of Waterloo, and Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute stated kids who spent much time watching a screen at 2 years old did more serious on developmental markers than those kids spent less time watching a screen of the device.
“What’s new in this research is that we’re learning young children, so aged 2-5, when brain development is rapidly progressing, and besides, child development is unfolding so rapidly,” Dr. Sheri Madigan informed the Guardian. “We’re getting at these lasting effects.”
The authors of the research, who tested 2,400 kids, say parents must be cautious about how long they permit their children to spend on their devices.
“Excessive screen time can impinge on children’s potential to develop optimally,” the research stated. “It is strongly recommended that pediatricians and healthcare practitioners guide parents on appropriate amounts of screen exposure and discuss the potential consequences of extreme screen use.”
Within the research, 2-year-olds spent around 17 hours a week in front of a screen. That amount raised to 25 hours a week at 3 before falling to 11 hours per week at 5-years-old. Researchers explain a pattern quickly came into focus: the extra time children spent in front of their devices, the worse they did in the tests.
However, not everyone is on board with the results. Critics claim the research doesn’t think about what the children have been utilizing the screens for or other factors such as sleep patterns or family income.