Early Exposure to Television Screens May Impact Sensory Processing

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Motherhood and new life

Guidelines for Screen Time in Young Children

Watching television or videos can have an effect on babies and toddlers. Researchers at Drexel’s College of Medicine have found that it may lead to unusual sensory behaviors in young children.

Understanding Sensory Behaviors

Sensory behaviors involve how our bodies react to different things we see, hear, touch, and taste. Babies and toddlers are still learning about their senses, and what they experience can affect how they behave.

The Study Details

The researchers looked at data from 1,471 children across the country. They studied how much TV or DVDs these kids watched when they were 12, 18, and 24 months old. Then, they checked the children’s sensory behaviors at 33 months old.

The Findings

Here’s what they discovered:

  • Babies who watched any TV at 12 months were 105% more likely to show unusual sensory behaviors at 33 months.
  • For kids who watched more TV at 18 months, they were 23% more likely to display these behaviors later on.
  • The same goes for 24-month-olds who watched more TV; they had a 20% higher chance of showing unusual sensory behaviors.

The researchers considered factors like age, premature birth, caregiver education, and other things that might influence the results.

Implications for Child Development

This study adds to a growing list of concerns about how screen time affects babies and toddlers. Other research has linked it to issues like delayed language development, autism, sleep problems, and attention difficulties.

How It Could Affect Kids with Autism and ADHD

Atypical sensory behaviors are even more common in children with autism and ADHD. For kids with autism, these behaviors can lead to problems like irritability and hyperactivity. In kids with ADHD, they can struggle with things like paying attention and dealing with anxiety.

What Can Be Done

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that children under 18-24 months should avoid screen time, except for live video chats. For kids aged 2 to 5, screen time should be limited to no more than 1 hour per day.

Parents can play a significant role by reducing screen time for their young children. They can also encourage sensory activities and seek guidance from occupational therapists when needed.

Screen Time Trends

Despite the evidence, many toddlers still spend a lot of time in front of screens. In 2014, children aged 2 and under in the United States watched an average of 3 hours and 3 minutes of screens per day, up from 1 hour and 19 minutes in 1997.

Some parents may rely on screens due to exhaustion and a lack of affordable alternatives. More research is needed to understand how early-life screen time impacts sensory behaviors fully.

In conclusion, while watching TV or videos may seem harmless for babies and toddlers, it can have long-term effects on their sensory behaviors. Parents and caregivers should be mindful of screen time and its potential impact on a child’s development.

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