A new Canadian study involving 2,500 2-year-old toddlers showed that more screen time means delayed development of skills like sociability and language. Experts say that in America and Canada, children below 18-months-of-age should not be allowed to use screens. UK however sets no such guidelines as it believes that there isn’t much evidence even when this study is included for ‘direct toxic effect’.
Between 2011 and 2016, mothers were surveyed. They answered questions about their kids’ skill development at ages 2, 3 and 5. Screen time included using phones, tablets and computers, gaming and watching videos, films and TV shows. Screen time in 2-year-olds was about 17 hours per week, which became 25 hours per week in 3-year-olds. It dropped to 11 hours per week by the time kids were 5 as they began primary school. It is however not sure how screen time directly affects development in kids. Other contributing factors may be ways in which rest of kids’ leisure time is spent and their upbringing. Increased screen time means less social interactions and less time spent doing physically active things like running and climbing.
Dr. Sheri Madigan and team say that even without proper evidence, it is better to limit screen time in kids as it is becoming more and more common for 1-year-olds to spend their time using screens. The new study does not make it clear as to how much screen time is too much. AAP states that kids below 18-months-of-age should use screens only for video chatting, those between ages of 18 and 24 months should only watch high-quality shows under supervision of their parents, kids between ages 2 and 5 should limit screen time to an hour a day and kids above age 6 should limit screen time to leave enough time for physical activity and sleep. Canada however says that kids aged below 2 should not be exposed to any kind of screen time. RCPCH of UK does not set any limit. It instead says that adults should limit screen time and set good examples. Dr. Bernadka Dubicka says that more studies are necessary to fully understand the impact of screen time on toddlers and their development.