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Why excessive screen time is causing your child to fall behind

Why excessive screen time is causing your child to fall behind

While many experts can agree that excessive screen time is not good for the development of kids, new research looks into the reasons why development is stunted.

Why excessive screen time is causing your child to fall behind

Research from the University of Calgary published in JAMA Pediatrics has shown that excessive screen time by young children is associated with delays in development. Limiting young children’s recreational screen time to less than two hours a day, along with sufficient sleep and physical activity, is also associated with improved cognition.

However, it is unclear if greater screen time predicts lower performance scores on developmental screening tests or if children with poor developmental performance receive added screen time as a way to modulate challenging behaviour.

For the research 2441 mothers and children (at age 24, 36 and 60 months) in Calgary Canada were studied. The study revealed that on average children were viewing screens for 2.4, 3.6 and 1.6 hours per day at two, three and five years of age, respectively.

These numbers far exceed recommendations by the Canadian Paediatric Society and American Academy of Pediatrics – that children between two and five years view no more than one hour of high-quality programming per day. The study found that higher levels of screen time at two and three years predict poorer child outcomes at three and five years, respectively.

The researchers postulate that this could be caused by either the direct effects of technology or missed opportunities. Direct effects suggest that something about the digital interface (bright lights, highly reinforcing gameplay and repetitive rewards) is compromising development. The other idea is missed opportunities, and suggests that when children are watching screens they are missing out on opportunities to practice development – such as talking, running and interacting with others.

Balance screen time with nature

Going on a ‘techno-fast’ isn’t easy, but it could do more for your wellbeing than you think. Discover how you can better balance your screen time with ecotherapy.

As well as lowering blood pressure, reducing pain, strengthening our immune systems and reducing the risk of many types of cancers, nature has a profound effect on our mental health.

So maybe a screen fast is not so bad for you and your family.

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