Smallest Tots Spending Too Much Time on Screens
Kids kept at home rather than put in day care were more than twice as likely to have lots of screen time, the study authors noted.
Reshma Naidoo, director of cognitive neuroscience at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, agreed that infants should not be exposed to screens in the first 18 months of life.
“The two-dimensional images on screens are very restrictive,” she said. “Also, screens offer a lot more spontaneous reinforcement, so patience doesn’t develop and anticipation is decreased.”
But Naidoo thinks that screens are and will continue to be a bigger part of children’s lives.
“We need to change the conversation from limiting screen time and being concerned that we’re spending so much time on screens to what do we do with that screen time,” she said.
“How do we turn it into something more meaningful? Because the entire world has shifted to a more digital environment,” Naidoo said.
To that end, she thinks that guidelines are needed that help parents integrate media into their kids’ lives.
It’s not only helping parents know which programs are best, but also what activities they can do with their child after watching a program or playing a game.
In the second study, Canadian researchers found that about 79% of 2-year-olds and nearly 95% of 3-year-olds spent more time on screens than recommended.
Kids of moms who spent lots of time with screens also watched more media, as did kids who were kept home and not put in day care, the study found.
For this study, researchers collected data on nearly 1,600 2-year-olds and 2,000 3-year-olds.
These findings are concerning, said lead researcher Sheri Madigan, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Calgary.
“Research shows that excessive screen time in preschoolers may be problematic for their development,” Madigan said. Parents should be aware of the guidelines and find ways to limit screen time, she added.
Another expert said the home environment also plays a role.
“The context of the viewing plays a very important role,” said Dafna Lemish, a professor of journalism and media studies in the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.