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Screen Time Affects Toddlers' Problem-Solving Skills

Screen Time Affects Toddlers' Problem-Solving Skills

Tuesday, 5 February, 2019 - 06:15
Toddlers who spend too much time in front of televisions, tablets and smartphones may not become as skilled at problem-solving as their peers who have less screen time. (Reuters)
London - Asharq Al-Awsat
A new study found that toddlers who spend too much time in front of televisions, tablets and smartphones may not become as skilled at problem-solving, communication and other skills needed for school as their peers who have less screen time.

According to Reuters, children in the study had an average of 17 hours of screen time a week when they were two years old, and 25 hours a week by the time they were three. This far exceeds one-hour daily limit recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics to allow children enough time for creative play and interactions with caregivers and peers.

Lead study author Sheri Madigan of the University of Calgary and the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute in Canada: "Screen time is most often a sedentary or passive behavior, with very few learning opportunities."

Part of the problem is that toddlers’ brains aren’t developed enough to apply things they learn from screens to what they experience in life, she explained by email.

"If they see someone building blocks on the screen, this doesn’t help them build blocks in real life,” Madigan said.

Another reason screen time can slow development is that the hours passed in front of televisions and tablets mean kids may miss out on chances to scribble with crayons or play games that help them learn how to kick a ball.

"These are critical skills in early childhood, because mastery of skill is needed before further development can occur. You need to walk before you can run, and you need to know how to hold a crayon before you can write your name," Madigan said.

For the study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers surveyed 2,441 mothers in Canada about how much time their kids spent on typical weekdays and weekends watching television, movies or videos; playing video games; or using computers, tablets or other devices like smartphones.

Suzy Tomopoulos of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital in New York, who wasn’t involved in the study, said: "Parents can minimize risks if screen time is child-appropriate, has educational content, and viewed together with the child.”

“Parents should also turn off the television when no one is watching, during mealtimes and one hour before bedtime."

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