Television Screen Time in Infants Linked to Sensory Differences, New Study Finds
A recent study has shed light on the potential effects of television screen time on the sensory development of children under the age of 2. The study, which analyzed responses from 1,500 caregivers, found a significant association between early exposure to screens and sensory differences in toddlerhood.
According to the study, children who watched television or DVDs at 12 months of age were twice as likely to experience “atypical sensory processing” by the time they reached 36 months compared to their peers. Furthermore, each additional hour of screen exposure after 18 months of age increased the likelihood of sensory processing differences by 20%.
It is important to note that the study only focused on television screen time and did not include the use of smartphones or tablets. Previous research has already highlighted the negative impacts of excessive screen time on language, hearing, and cognitive abilities in young children.
Sensory processing issues can manifest in various ways, from discomfort in certain clothing textures to differences in how children handle lights or noises. These issues may occur on their own or coexist with conditions such as autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), although the study did not delve into the prevalence of these conditions.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has set guidelines recommending no screen time for children under 2 years old and a 1-hour limit for children aged 2 to 5. However, due to the prevalence of mobile devices, digital content, and the impact of the ongoing pandemic, most children under 5 are exceeding the recommended screen time limits.
Experts urge caution when drawing conclusions about the direct causation between screen time and sensory differences. They emphasize that home environments and other factors may also contribute. Parents are advised to consider affordable alternative activities and prioritize family well-being when addressing screen time.
Different families may require individualized strategies for reducing screen time. It is crucial to promote healthy developmental activities, such as reading and socializing, to ensure overall well-being.
The purpose of this study is to inform parents about the potential impacts of screen time on young children’s sensory development without placing blame or stigmatizing screen use. By raising awareness, researchers hope to empower parents to make informed decisions regarding their children’s use of screens and encourage healthier alternatives for their development.
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