Researchers warn parents about the risks children face from using tablets and other electronic devices at a young age.
One study found that toddlers, who frequently play on tablets, cell phones, and game consoles, can have problems when they start school.
Scientists in Finland found that toddlers who use electronic media frequently are more likely than their peers to have problems that need to be resolved by the age of five.
Researchers from the Finnish Institute for Health and Social Welfare said that prolonged viewing time poses “multiple risks” to children’s well-being.
Here is the full list of the challenging issues associated with using devices:
- a higher risk of emotional and behavioral problems when they go to school
Impulsivity problems – that is, acting without thinking
a short attention span
Peer relationship issues when they turn five compared to their peers
emotional internalization – keeping problems to yourself
Externalization of symptoms – lack of self-control with behavior and emotions
Reduce the time it takes to interact with family members
Cut to the time I’ve spent reading
Shortening the playing time
The new study, published in the journal BMJ Open, looked at data on around 700 Finnish children.
Parents reported how much time their child spent with electronic media at the age of 18 months and five years.
The research found that 95% of preschoolers spent more than an hour on a screen each day.
The World Health Organization says screen time is not recommended for children under the age of two.
Your leadership says that people between the ages of two and four should not use more than an hour of screen time per day and “less is better”.
However, the Finnish study found that the average screen time for a five-year-old was 114 minutes per day and an average of 32 minutes for an 18-month-old.
With concern, the authors found that high screen time in five-year-olds was associated with the risk of “multiple psychosocial problems”.
These included attention and concentration difficulties, hyperactivity and impulsivity, emotional internalization and externalization of symptoms, and behavior problems.
A closer look revealed that after five years, many watching TV were at increased risk for multiple psychosocial events [ie, psychological and social] Problems.
But they said playing video games had fewer associations – although it was linked to hyperactivity.
They also found that 18-month-olds who had more screen time than recommended were more likely to have “peer problems” later.
More positively, however, by the age of 18 months they did not find high levels of electronic device usage, which was later linked to other problems of psychological and social well-being.
The report says, “As our results show, prolonged viewing time poses multiple risks to children’s psychosocial wellbeing.
“These risk factors could accumulate over the long term and later cause problems in the socio-emotional development of children.
“One possible mechanism that explains the outcome could be that the time children spend on e-media reduces the time spent on constructive activities such as interacting with family members, reading, and playing.”
WHO guidelines aim to replace screen time with more active play while ensuring that young children get enough good sleep.
“What we really need to do is bring back play for children,” said Dr. Juana Willumsen, WHO focus on obesity and physical activity in children.
“The point here is to switch from sitting to playing time and at the same time protect your sleep. “