Screen Time Linked to Poorer Child Developmental Performance

More screen time tied to poorer performance on developmental screening tests at 36, 60 months

MONDAY, Jan. 28, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Screen time is associated with poorer performance on developmental screening tests among young children, according to a study published online Jan. 28 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Sheri Madigan, Ph.D., from the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, and colleagues examined the directional association between screen time and child development in a three-wave cross-lagged panel model. Data were included for 2,441 mothers and children and were available when children were aged 24, 36, and 60 months. Developmental outcomes were assessed via maternal report using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire, Third Edition.

The researchers observed significant correlations for higher levels of screen time at ages 24 and 36 months with poorer performance on developmental screening tests at 36 and 60 months, respectively (β, −0.08 and −0.06, respectively). An association between lower scores on developmental screening tests and higher levels of screen time at later time points was not observed.

"To our knowledge, the present study is the first to provide evidence of a directional association between screen time and poor performance on development screening tests among very young children," the authors write. "Understanding the directional association between screen time and its correlates, and taking family-based steps to engage with technology in positive ways may be fundamental to ensuring developmental success of children growing up in a digital age."

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