Study links developmental delays with screen time for toddlers, even as little as 1 hour per day

News & Politics

A new study found a link between developmental delays and increased screen time for children.

The study was published in the JAMA Pediatrics journal on Monday. It measured childhood development in 1-year-olds who watched screens for as little as one to four hours.

Researchers looked at results from 7,097 children and their mothers who were recruited from 50 obstetric clinics and hospitals in Japan from July 2013 to March 2017.

“It’s a really important study because it has a very large sample size of children who’ve been followed for several years,” explained pediatrics associate professor Dr. Jason Nagata to CNN, who was not involved in the study.

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“The study fills an important gap because it identifies specific developmental delays (in skills) such as communication and problem-solving associated with screen time,” he added.

Researchers asked the mothers to self-report several measures of development, including communication skills, fine motor skills, personal and social skills, and problem-solving skills.

Of the children who had greater screen time, the study found that they were up to three times more likely to exhibit developmental delays by age 2. Those children who had more than four hours of screen time were almost five times as likely to display underdeveloped communication skills.

Experts recommended that parents choose other options aside from screen time, such as coloring materials, toys, and books. They also said that parents should limit their own screen time as children tend to mimic the behavior they see.

A separate study from March 2022 found a link between increased screen time and behavioral problems in children.

“There’s a signal there. We’re seeing some association between screen time and behavior problems. It’s not particularly robust, but it’s there,” said Dr. Sheri Madigan, a senior author of the paper.

The meta-study involved data from more than 160,000 children under the age of 12 and found that screen time led to an increased internalization of depression and anxiety and also an externalization of aggression and inattention.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that zero screen time be given to babies until 18 months. After 18 months, they say screen time should be limited to one hour per day.

Here’s more about the study findings:

New warning about screen time and kids |

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