Screen time for young children: less is more

Researchers followed a children cohort of up to the age of 9. They found that a screen time of two to three hours per day is associated with EEG changes.

Too much screen time changes the brain

How much screen time is normal?

While previous generations were exposed to screens only through television, this is not true for children born in the 21st century. Mobile phones, computers, and tablets are everywhere and play an important role in everyday life. As a result, even babies and toddlers already spend a considerable part of their day in front of a screen. It is estimated that children between the ages of six and 18 months spend about two to three hours a day looking at mobile phones and the like.

What are the recommendations regarding TV, tablets etc.?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants under 18 months of age should not spend any time in front of a screen at all - with the exception of video phone calls. For some time now, screen flickers have been suspected of negatively affecting the cognitive development of the youngest children.

A study trackles screen time

A recent study has investigated the very issue of screen time and its impact. For this purpose, a cohort of children born within three months was followed until they were 9 years old. At the age of 12 months, the parents were asked how much time their child spends in front of the television or with a mobile phone or tablet. The result: two hours on average.

At the age of 18 months, the children were given an EEG. This revealed cortical changes that can also impair some brain functions later in life.

What can paediatricians do?

The data once again shows the link between screen time in infancy and possible cognitive changes. It is crucial to further research these relations in order to adequately advise parents. In general, screen abstinence seems recommended until at least 18 months of age.