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If a child is overly exposed to screens – which are passive media that do not interact with the child – then they will not develop speech and language, social and emotional skills.

Why too much screen time is bad for your childs development
Monday, June 20, 2022 - 14:08

By Dr Rashmi Adiga

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all our lives. Many young parents have had to work from home and manage a preschool child without external help or help from extended family members. This has resulted in increased screen time for children. Many parents have resorted to using either TV or devices like mobile phones or iPads to distract their preschool children. This has had an adverse impact on the children’s development.

I have personally seen so many children with speech and language delay, delay in social skills and cognitive (intelligence) skills. Children, especially those less than 2 years of age, need to be able to interact with adults. They need to see the facial expressions of their parents and elders, and this helps with their brain development. Play is important for the child’s physical, social, cognitive and emotional development. Children need to play with physical toys, which help enhance their imagination.

Neurodevelopment is the brain’s ability to develop the neurological pathways responsible for the normal functioning of the brain to learn, focus, and develop memories and social skills. Environment, stimulation of the child, play activities, interactions with parents – all contribute to neurodevelopment. If a child is overly exposed to screens – which are passive media that do not interact with the child – then they will not develop speech and language, social and emotional skills.

recent study from Japan concluded that among boys, longer screen time at one year of age was significantly associated with autism spectrum disorder at three years of age. And this is something we as paediatric neurologists are seeing in our daily practice. There are also WHO guidelines for screen time which say that children less than two years of age should have ZERO screen time. Replacing screen time with physical activity and sleep can provide additional health benefits.

In older children, screen time before bed can interfere with normal sleep and result in more behavioural problems during the day. It can also interfere with consolidation of memory.

In conclusion, it is a matter of urgency to limit or stop screen time for all children, especially preschool children.

This article was published in association with Rainbow Children’s Hospital and not created by TNM Editorial.

Dr. Rashmi Adiga, MBBS, DCH, MRCPCH (U.K), CCT (U.K), FRCPCH
Consultant
Paediatric Neurologist, Rainbow Children’s Hospital, BG Road, Bengaluru.