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This week “from the doctor’s chair” Dr Vicki Nahamkes looks at the serious effects that phone addiction can have on all the family.

Researchers, Doctors, Public Health Officials and Parents are trying to make sense of the impact of screen time on children. The question is, can Screen Time Predict Delay in Child Development?

The study published in JAMA Pediatrics (Jan, 2019) shows an adverse association between how much young children are using screens and how well they are meeting their developmental milestones.

On average (figures form a study conducted in Alberta, Canada)

  • 2 yr old were viewing screens for 2.5 hrs/day
  • 3 yrs were viewing the screens for 3.6 hrs/day
  • 5 yo were viewing the screens for 1.6 hrs/day

These numbers far exceed the recommendations by the Canadian Paediatric Society and American Academy of Paediatrics which recommends that

...children between 2-5 yrs view no more than one hour of high-quality programming per day.

The study was not able to determine how screen time delays child development but it was clear that

The higher levels of screen time predicted poorer outcomes.

the researchers provided a few hypotheses how this occurred:

One hypothesis is referred to as “direct effect” and suggests that something about the digital interface (bright lights, repetitive rewards) that might be compromising development.

The other hypotheses is known as missed opportunity and suggests that when children are watching screens that they are missing out on opportunities to practice development such as talking, running and interactive with others.

It is considered best for each individual child to use the digital media positively by balancing its use against other childhood activities like reading and playing

It is best to enjoy screens not too much and mostly with others.

If you’re concerned about your child's development why not book in with Dr Vicki Nahamkes to discuss.

Dr V Nahamkes