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Study: Increased screen time in young children associated with developmental delays

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A new study from psychologists and doctors in Canada found increased screen time in young children can cause issues with children reaching developmental milestones.

Researchers studied 2,441 mothers and children with higher levels of screen time for children aged 24 and 36-months-old. Researchers then examined developmental milestone test results in the same children at 36 and 60-months-old.

The study found on average, 24-month-old children were watching 17 hours of television per week, 36-month-olds watched 25 hours per week, and 36-month-olds watched 11 hours per week. The totals reflect findings children on average in the U.S. watch to 2 hours and 19 minutes of screen time each day.

For each age group, children with increased screen times showed poorer performances on developmental testing when they reached the next age group. Developmental evaluations included communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem solving, and personal-social skills.

The totals are well above the recommended 1 hour per day of screen time watching high-quality programs. Researchers say about one quarter of children are not developmentally ready for school entry and the trend parallels an increase in screen time use by children.

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Researchers say the findings indicate pediatricians and parents should provide guidance and have plans in place to create a healthier balance in children's lives and lower the amount of screen time.

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