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OnMedica – News – Plan and manage children's screen time, urge US experts



Directional link between excessive screen time and lower scores on developmental tests

Louise Prime

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Excessive screen time can affect children's ability to develop optimally for pediatricians and health professionals to guide parents in adequate amounts of on-screen exposure and discuss potential consequences of overuse of the screen, according to the researchers behind a new study published JAMA Pediatrics. The study design meant that it could exclude the inverse association of poorer children by simply being allowed more time on the screen.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said in the fall of 2016: "When the media is [sic] used consciously and appropriately, the media can improve daily life. But when used inappropriately or thoughtlessly, the media can displace many important activities, such as face-to-face interaction, family time, outdoor play, exercise, unplugged downtime, and sleep. "The AAP recommended ** that parents and caregivers develop a family media plan that takes into account the health, education, and entertainment needs of each child as well as the entire family.

The team behind the current study said that while excessive screen time is associated with developmental delays, it is unclear whether longer screen time predicts lower performance scores on developmental screening tests or whether children with performance of poor development receive additional screen time as a way to modulate challenging behavior. They designed a longitudinal cohort study to assess the directional association between increased screen time and performance in screening tests for children's development.

The study included 2,441 mothers and children (slightly less than half boys) in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. When the children were 24, 36 and 60 months, the children's screen time behavior (total hours per week) and the developmental results (Questionnaire of ages and stages, Third Edition) were evaluated through the maternal report.

The researchers' analysis revealed that the highest screen time levels of children at 24 and 36 months were significantly associated with poorer performance in screening screening at 36 months and 60 months. They commented: "Anverse association (ie, poor developmental performance to increased screen time) was not observed."

The authors of the study observed that their longitudinal design, although necessary when looking at the directionality of associations, is also a disadvantage when technological development is rapidly evolving and surpassing research; and, they said, another limitation was the consideration of the total "screen time," rather than the time spent on different types of media content.

They pointed out that in the US, while curricula and educational programs have continued to progress, there have been no improvements in students' academic performance in the last decade, which parallels the period when technology use and screen time increased rapidly. They concluded: "To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to provide evidence of a directional association between screen time and poor performance in screening screening tests among very young children. Because the use of technology is rooted in the modern life of individuals, understanding the directional association between screen time and its correlates and taking familiar steps to engage with technology in a positive way may be critical to ensuring children's development success. in the digital age. "

They recommended encouraging family media plans as well as screen time management to offset the potential consequences of overuse.


* Madigan S, Browne D, Racine N, et al. Association between screen time and children's performance in a screening screening test. JAMA Pediatr. Published online January 28, 2019. doi: 10.1001 / jamapediatrics.2018.5056.

** AAP recommendations include:

  • For children under 18 months, avoid using screen media other than video chat. Parents of children ages 18 to 24 months who wish to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming and assist with their children to help them understand what they are seeing.
  • For children 2 to 5 years old, limit the use of the screen to one hour a day of high quality programs. Parents should co-visualize media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
  • For children six years of age or older, place consistent limits on the time spent using the media and media types, and make sure that the media does not replace adequate sleep, physical activity, and other essential health behaviors.
  • Designate free media times together, such as dining or driving, as well as places without media at home like rooms.
  • Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and security, including treating others with respect online and offline.

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