• By Dana Sparks

Does screen time contribute to slower child development?

January 30, 2019

A recent study of more than 2,400 children linked high levels of screen time with delayed development. Researchers say what's new is that the focus was on children ages 2–5.

The use of electronic devices on brain development in children is an ongoing discussion among medical experts, parents, teachers and caregivers. Below is a response from Dr. Angela Mattke, a Mayo Clinic Children's Center pediatrician, regarding the study and the broader conversation.

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High levels of screen time in young children have been associated with sleep disturbances, obesity, behavioral problems and developmental delays. Previous research has found associations with excessive TV watching in young children and delays in social emotional, language and cognitive delays. Although this study has limitations, its findings add to this growing body of research about the effects of media on children's health and development. The study should be used as a springboard to continue discussing with families.

The recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics for children ages 2-5 is that screen media be limited to one hour or less per day. The organization also recommends that programming be considered "high-quality programming." Examples of such programming would be content from the Public Broadcasting Service, Sesame Workshop and Common Sense Media. It also recommends that parents "co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them."

If children are spending excessive time consuming digital media, they are missing out on important unstructured free play that is critical for their cognitive and social emotional development and problem solving skills.                              Follow @MayoClinicKids @DrAngelaMattke  #AskTheMayoMom

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