Toddler screen time is linked to developmental screen outcomes at preschool age

  • JAMA Pediatr

  • curated by Emily Willingham, PhD
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • More toddler screen time is linked to worse developmental screen performance when the children reach preschool age.
  • The reverse association did not hold, however, suggesting that children with lower scores did not necessarily have more screen time because of behavioral factors.

Why this matters

  • These authors say that “excessive screen time can impinge on children’s ability to develop optimally.”
  • They recommend that clinicians guide parents regarding appropriate exposure levels.

Key results

  • Screen time levels at 24 and 36 months were associated with developmental screening outcomes at 36 and 60 months:
    • 36 months: β coefficient, −0.08 (95% CI, −0.13 to −0.02); and
    • 60 months: β, −0.06 (95% CI, −0.13 to −0.02).
  • Individual-level differences were substantial. 

Study design

  • Longitudinal cohort All Our Families study, Canada (October 20, 2011 to October 6, 2016).
  • 3 waves involving 2441 mothers and children.
  • Data for children taken at ages 24, 36, and 60 months.
  • Screen time reports and Ages and Stages questionnaire used.
  • Mean screen time (hours/week):
    • 24 months: 17.09 (standard deviation, 11.99); 
    • 36 months: 24.99 (12.97); and
    • 60 months: 10.85 (5.33).
  • Funding: Alberta Innovates Health Solutions Interdisciplinary Team; Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation; Canada Research Chairs.

Limitations

  • Screen time behaviors could have changed during study.
  • Content quality not assessed.

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