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Effects of Screen Time on Children

Certain studies indicate that youngsters may spend up to nine hours each day playing video games or watching TV. Studies performed by health care providers and education specialists determined that excessive exposure to media devices has a detrimental effect on cognitive development. The affected youngsters are more prone to having attention and memory deficits in addition […]

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Certain studies indicate that youngsters may spend up to nine hours each day playing video games or watching TV. Studies performed by health care providers and education specialists determined that excessive exposure to media devices has a detrimental effect on cognitive development. The affected youngsters are more prone to having attention and memory deficits in addition to language delays. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents restrict exposure for children aged five to 18 to one hour daily.

University of Calgary Study
Assistant psychology professor Sheri Madigan and colleagues performed a study of 2,441 mothers and children aged two to five. The moms reported the amount of time their youngsters spent watching TV or were engaged in computer-based activities. The mothers also provided information about their youngster’s behavioral, communication, and social skills. Data were obtained from the time the children were two until they reached the age of five.

The study results indicated that the youngsters spent two to three hours daily in front of a multimedia screen. The chronic exposure manifested as poor performance in various aspects of development. But, children diagnosed with developmental delays did not spend time being entertained by a computer or TV. The results remained definitive despite discounting other factors, including the level of physical activity or if parents regularly read to the child.

Madigan shared that how children are exposed to media devices is also important. Watching TV with caregivers or parents provides the chance for learning, interacting, and enhancing social development and language skills.

Danger of Language Delays
A member of the pediatric group that established viewing guidelines warned that when youngsters become immersed in television, they experience less interaction with parents. While television plays, parents are less likely to talk. Evidence suggests that the less time spent talking has a direct correlation to diminished language development.

Few studies have been performed investigating the possible long-term effects of heavy media viewing. However, as young brains are developing and cognitive abilities are forming, heavy TV viewing seems to go hand in hand with developmental difficulties.

Less evidence exists that children aged two and younger benefit from watching television programs even though parents may subject toddlers to seemingly educational media. Young children do not have the language skills needed to comprehend what they see on the TV or computer screen. 

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