Skip to main content

Oregon Family Magazine

The Dangers of Too Much Screen Time

04/01/2019 ● By Sandy Kauten
Experts have long suspected there’s a link between too much screen time and developmental problems in young children—now, a group of researchers have confirmed the long-term effects. 

In a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), child development researchers in Canada tracked the screen time of roughly 2,400 kids, which included watching TV, using a computer, playing video games and spending time on tablets or smartphones.

Not only were the children exceeding the recommended guidelines of no more than one hour of high-quality programming for kids between the ages of 2 and 5 set by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), researchers found that higher levels of screen time at ages 2 and 3 was significantly associated with poorer performance on developmental screening tests at ages 3 and 5.

Why is this significant?

The toddler years are a critical time for the development of a child’s verbal, social and motor skills. The brain circuits needed to learn these skills are best formed by physical activity, as well as talking and interacting with people around them. Too much time spent in front of screens detracts from this, and can also affect a child’s vision, body weight and mental health. The emotional and physical problems of excessive screen time follow kids into their teen years and beyond. Screens have been shown to be addictive, from apps and games to videos and social media.  

Take time to unplug

Look for ways to balance technology and screens with device-free family time. Go outside and play, hangout and talk, read books, cook together and engage as a family. All of those activities will strengthen your children’s most important relationships and have a positive impact on their brain development. If you have concerns or questions about your child’s screen time, talk with your pediatrician.

by Pilar Bradshaw, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Eugene Pediatric Associates