How Much Is Too Much Screen Time For Your Baby?
There are quite a few educational apps on the market and we, as parents, are always looking for the latest and greatest developmental tool for our baby. But at what cost? Is there a link between increased screen time and decreased development?
BBC news online has highlighted a research article in JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) that examines the possibility that screen time is harming toddlers. This Canadian study tracked 2,500 two-year old children between 2011 and 2016. The study found that by the age of two, children were watching approximately 17 hours of screen time per week. This jumps up to 25 hours at the age of 3 and then decreases to about 11 hours at the age of 5 (when most children start school).
It seems that there is no direct link between the actual screen time and decrease in development. The researchers think that this increase in screen time could be taking up children's time that could be allocated to social interactions and practicing various fine and gross motor skills.
With the increase use of televisions, phones, and tablets, it is the responsibility of parents to be informed on when to introduce screens to their child and how much time to allow per day. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends to avoid screen time for children younger than 18 months of age. For 18-24 months, parents should limit screen time to only high-quality programming and watch it with their children. For ages 2-5, screen time should be limited to one hour per day - supervised. For children six years and older, there should be limits on screen time and to be sure that it is not interfering with socialization time, sleep and/or physical activity.
The AAP's recommendations are similar to what is recommended in other parts of the world. The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends no screen time for children under the age of two and the UK's Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health does not have a set limit, but rather a questionnaire for parents to see if screen time is negatively impacting other areas of development in their child.
Please keep in mind that babies learn best by doing and through exposure. Have a conversation with your baby, point things out to them in the environment, and engage your baby in purposeful play.
You don't need screens to maximize your baby's development...it's all in the bag!