Can Excess Screen Time Delay Development in Kids Under 5? Read More Of This Study

Nowadays, children are exposed to screens more than ever, especially since COVID, which forced schools to shut and classes to go online

Shubhangi Shah
Written by: Shubhangi ShahUpdated at: Oct 18, 2021 11:18 IST
Can Excess Screen Time Delay Development in Kids Under 5? Read More Of This Study

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It’s a known fact that in the present time, children are exposed to screen more than ever. This has been further aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the schools to shut and classes to go online. Although eye-related issues are the known effects of excessive screentime. But do you know of its other negative impacts? As per a new study, excess screen time can cause developmental delays in children under the age of five. The study, conducted by Chennai-based researchers, inferred that children who were exposed to excess screen time were not able to comprehend what they were told.

Paper’s lead author Dr Samya Varadarajan told a leading news website that the study was aimed at finding a link between excessive screen time and developmental delay in children under the age of five. The study titled ‘Prevalence of excessive screen time and its association with developmental delay in children aged <5 years: A population-based cross-sectional study in India’ was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

About The Study

Screen time of children has increased considerably

(Photo Credit: Pixabay)

Here is everything you need to know about the study:

  • For this study, researchers studied 718 children from the ages of six months to five years.
  • 70% of the 718 children studies were exposed to excess screen time. Most of the children were exposed to any form of the screen by the age of six months and a majority of them were exposed to TV screens by the time they turned 1.
  • The children’s development was studied based on eight parameters that included cognitive skills, receptive and expressive language, social and emotional development, activities of daily living, etc.
  • According to Dr Varadarajan, developmental delay is when a child is unable to understand what is being said. For example, if a mother says, “come here and sit down,” -- these are two commands. If the child can understand just one, it is termed as a developmental delay.
  • The researchers found out that children with excessive exposure to screen time were not able to pick up simple words.
  • They, however, picked up slang from TV. In some cases, they also picked up inappropriate words.

The study was conducted in 2019, but, says Dr Varadarajan, the data can be extrapolated to the current time when screen time has further increased due to the COVID-induced lockdown and virtual classes.

Also read: How Much Screen Time Is Healthy? Know The Damage It Can Do & Tips To Limit Damage

Other Effects Of Excess Screen Time

Excess screen time has several harmful effects on children

(Photo Credit: Freepik)

We now know that excess screen time can have such a negative impact on a child’s growth and development. But, is it the only impact? According to a health website of the US National Library of Medicine, excess screen time can:

  • Cause sleep-related issues, such as making it difficult for your child to sleep.
  • Make him/her prone to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and attention-related disorders.
  • Lead to obesity. This is because watching TV or playing on your smartphone are sedentary activities, which require very little energy.

What You Can Do About It

Although it might be impossible to completely keep your child away from the screen, however, there are some ways you can decrease that time period. Here are some ways suggested by the US National Library of Medicine’s health website:

  • Remove any kind of screen, be it a TV or computer, from your child’s bedroom.
  • Absolutely no screen time during meals
  • You can decide in advance what shows your child will watch. Do not allow him/her to watch TV any more than that.
  • You should encourage your child to engage in other fun activities such as playing outside, solving puzzles, playing board games, etc.
  • Keeping a tab on how many hours your child spends in front of the screen can play a huge role in managing it.

Lastly, children imitate their parents. Hence, be a good role model and spend less time watching TV, or on your computer or smartphone. You can easily encourage your kids to engage in other activities by spending time doing those activities with them. You can decide upon a day in the week when the family goes on a screen detox and engages in other activities. It can be a great bonding time too.

Photo Credit: Pixabay