A new study that was published in JAMA Pediatrics found a link between time spent in front of a screen during infancy and lower cognitive skills later in childhood.
In the study that was carried out on 437 children, those who had spent an average of two hours per day watching screens during their first year of life performed worse on tests of executive functions when they were 9 years old. Memory and attention test scores went down when executive functions, which are important for self-control, learning, academic success, and mental health, were low.
Researchers used EEGs to look at brain waves in babies who were 18 months old. They then linked the results to how much time the babies had spent in front of a screen. The results show that babies who spend too much time in front of screens may have long-term negative effects on their cognitive abilities.
Although the study did not conclusively establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship between screen time and cognitive abilities, it did raise concerns.
When it comes to children under the age of 2, the American Academy of Pediatrics has always been very clear: no screens, period. Under the supervision of an adult, the Academy of Pediatrics advises that children under the age of five only watch one hour of television per day.
Unfortunately, the academy’s recommendations are not followed globally. According to research conducted by the University of Calgary, based on over 60 studies involving 89,000 children from around the world, more than 75% of children under the age of two and 64% of those between the ages of two and five exceeded the recommended screen time limits. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that kids over the age of five should spend less time in front of a screen and that families should make a plan for how they use media together.