Children aged two to three who spent a lot of time in front of TV, laptop and smartphone screens were failing to meet developmental milestones at ages three and five, as well as having trouble with language and communication, problem solving, and motor skills, a study at the University of Calgary has found.
"We know that a lot of the positive stimulation that helps kids with their physical and cognitive development comes from interactions with caregivers," said lead researcher Dr Sheri Madigan. "When they're in front of their screens, these important parent-child interactions aren't happening, and this can delay or derail children's development."
The study also noted that children often spend time on screens rather than being physically active, which means they aren't developing the skills needed to ride a bike or throw a ball. Madigan recommends creating a family media plan that limits screen time, as well as creating device-free zones, like the dinner table.
"Technology is deeply entrenched in modern-day lives," said Madigan. "Taking family-based steps to engage with technology in positive ways may be crucial to ensuring success for our children who are growing up in the digital age."