Screen time triples during the toddler years, and that's too much

Screen time triples during the toddler years, and that's too much

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Researchers led by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) asked 4,000 moms in upstate New York about their children's media habits at ages 12, 18, 24, 30, and 36 months, as well as at 7 and 8 years old.

When they analyzed survey data they found that, between ages 12 months and 3 years, the time children spent using screens jumped from just under an hour a day to an average of two and a half hours a day.

By 8 years old, kids whose screen time increased the most as toddlers were also using screens more than kids whose exposure to screens rose less dramatically during their first three years of life.

Firstborn children and kids in home-based childcare logged the highest amount of screen time by elementary school, the authors noted in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Lead author Edwina Yeung with NICHD said the findings show that kids' screen habits are established early in life. Intervening early to stop kids spending too much time using screens as toddlers could help them have healthier screen habits when they're older, she said.

How much screen time is okay for your child? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following:

  • Under age 18 months: No screen time except video chatting.
  • Ages 18 months to 5 years: No more than one hour a day of high-quality programming. It's best if you watch programs or use screens with your children to help them understand what they're seeing, especially if your child is between 18 months and 2 years old.
  • 6 years and older: Set time limits for media use as a family. The AAP has an interactive tool that can help.

Speaking with CBSN Los Angeles, Dr. Rishma Chand at Dignity Health Northridge Hospital said that the real problem with too much screen time is that it replaces other important activities that help children develop and stay healthy, such as sleeping, talking, and interacting with people around them.

Children's brains grow fastest during their first three years of life, so it's very important that they get sensory input from real-life interactions and play, which passive screen use doesn't provide, experts agree.

For more information on screen time and how to rein it in, check out these our site articles:

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Watch the video: How To Reduce Screen Time for Kids. 10 Smart Ways to Reduce Screen Time (January 2023).

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