Screen Time and Child Development

Mar 14, 2024

In the era of technology, screen time has progressively increased.

  • 3-month-olds are exposed to an average of 2.6 hours per day.
  • More than 60% of American 3-year-olds watch about 3 hours of TV daily and have over 5 hours of indirect screen time.

During the initial stages of development, children’s brains triple in size within the first 3 years of life, highlighting the critical nature of these early years for their learning progress.

Research has showcased the negative impacts of TV and video games, including:

  • Decline in cognitive abilities, attention, and academic performance.
  • Rise in negative behaviors like violence, aggression, and antisocial conduct.
  • Decrease in verbal skills such as working memory, language development, executive function, and reduced engagement in imaginative play.

Here are key takeaways from the wealth of research on excessive screen time:

  • Monitor your children’s screen activities to make informed decisions about limiting screen time.
  • Implement screen time limits based on age:
    • No screen time for children under 18 months, except for video chatting.
    • Children aged 10-24 months should have limited screen time with educational content and parental supervision.
    • Limit screen time to 1 hour per day for children over 3 years old.
  • Emphasize quality and quantity by encouraging educational and slower-paced shows to your child. – Some good examples include shows like Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger or Ms. Rachel.
  • Incorporate screen-free meals and avoid screen time an hour before bedtime to facilitate family interactions and better sleep.
  • Co-view and discuss content with your child to enhance the screen time experience positively. Screens themselves are not bad, only the way we utilize them. An excellent way to use TV and screens is to have pauses in between with content discussions. Ask your child to describe what they saw. Can they retell the story? What did they learn from the characters? Depending on your child’s stage of development, you can also ask questions about colors, shapes, and sizes! Describe the actions of the characters “look, he’s jumping, eating, running!”
  • Spend more time together outside!  Explore the backyard or go for a walk around the neighborhood. Comment on things you see and describe the color, shape, size or function depending on your child’s stage of development. This aids in increasing vocabulary and verbal communication.

Remember, making small changes gradually is progress in the right direction! 


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