Using a reputable statistical technique, they examined the link between screen time at the age of one and developmental delays later on. This analysis revealed a dose-response association– meaning that the amount of screen time (or dose) had a connection with the level of developmental delay.
Greater screen time at the age of 1 showed an association with developmental delays in all key areas aside from gross motor skills by the age of 2 years old. However, by 4 years old, increased screen time was only linked to developmental delays in two areas– problem-solving and communication.
“The differing levels of developmental delays in the domains, and the absence of any detected delay in some of them at each stage of life examined, suggests that the domains should be considered separately in future discussions of the association between screen time and child development,” explained Taku Obara, a corresponding author of the study.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently published evidence suggesting that only a small fraction of kids are meeting guidelines for reducing screen time exposure– which were created to promote social interaction and physical activity. This evidence is what inspired the scientists to conduct this study in the first place.
“The rapid proliferation of digital devices, alongside the impact of the COVID pandemic, has markedly increased screen time for children and adolescents, but this study does not simply suggest a recommendation for restricting screen time,” Obara concluded.
“This study suggests an association, not causation, between screen time and developmental delay. We use the term ‘delay’ in accordance with previous research, but it is debatable whether this difference in development is really a ‘delay’ or not,” Obara continued.
“We would like to gain deeper insight in future studies by examining the effects of different types of screen exposure.”
To read the study’s complete findings, which have since been published in JAMA Pediatrics, visit the link here.
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