(NEW YORK) — A new study published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics suggests there is a link between more screen time for babies and developmental delays.
Researchers in Japan looked at survey data collected from over 7,000 kids who were 1 year old and found that those who were exposed to screens – defined in the study as “watching television, playing video games, and using mobile phones, tablets, and other electronic devices” – for more than one hour per day appeared to have more delays in developing communication, fine motor skills and problem-solving skills by the time they were 2, 3 or 4 years old.
The study didn’t differentiate between screen time for entertainment or for educational purposes and doesn’t show cause and effect, but showed a dose-response relationship between screen time and development.
“The more screen time these babies had at 1 year of age, the worse their developmental milestones were at 2 years of age, particularly in the realm of communication,” ABC News’ chief health and medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton told Good Morning America. “Some of those developmental issues, like fine and gross motor skills and problem-solving skills, may have shown a ding at age 2 but then kind of compensated and recovered by age four. But again, this showed that more screen time [is] not good for a one-year-old brain.”
What parents should know about screen time for babies
“Babies at 1 year of age need face-to-face communication, Ashton said. “They need that for their social development. They need that for their language development and you can’t sub that out with a screen.”
Lowering overall screen exposure may be beneficial for kids in the long run.
Screen time for babies
The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children under a year old should not have any screen time exposure, including watching TV or playing games.
Screen time for older children
Not all screen time for kids is negative. There are possible benefits of screen time for older children, which can include the development of communication and language skills, problem-solving skills, and social and emotional range.
“I think it’s really important to remember this is age-dependent and it’s based on the content not just the quantity,” Ashton said. “Children can learn with screen time. It’s just a matter of what the content is and how much they’re getting.”