Researchers from Tohoku University in Sendai and the University of California, San Francisco studied the effects of screen time on various aspects of a one-year-old child’s later development. The study results were published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
The likelihood of communication delays in two-year-old children who spent an hour to two hours a day in front of a screen at one year of age increased by 61% compared to controls. If screen time was between two and four hours, the risk doubled. If children spent more than four hours in front of a screen, the likelihood of communication delays increased by 4.78 times.
The risk of fine motor delays among children who spent more than four hours in front of a screen increased by 74%. The risk of impaired ability to solve assigned problems and acquire social skills also increased.
At age four, children who previously spent two to four hours in front of screens were 64% more likely to have communication problems. When screen time increased to four hours or more, the risk of communication impairment increased by 2.68 times. If a child spent four hours or more in front of a screen, the ability to solve problems was also impaired (risk ratio was 1.91).
|Scientists analyzed data from 7,097 mother-child pairs. All participants were divided into groups depending on the amount of time that a child aged one year spends in front of a screen. 3,440 children spent less than an hour in front of a screen, 2,095 spent between an hour and two. From two to four hours of screen time was found in 1,272 children, and four hours or more in 290.
Child development was assessed using the ASQ-3 questionnaire in five areas: communication (babbling, vocalization and comprehension), gross motor skills (movements of arms, body and legs), fine motor skills (movements of arms and fingers), problem solving (learning and playing with toys ), and personal and social skills (social play alone, play with toys, and play with other children).
The incidence of developmental delays at the ages of two and four years was assessed depending on the duration of screen time. A group in which children spent less than an hour a day in front of a screen was used as a control.
The authors remind that WHO and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend limiting screen time to one hour per day for children ages 2–5 years to ensure they are physically active and getting enough sleep for healthy growth and well-being. Screen time is strongly discouraged for children under 18 months of age.