San Francisco: Babies aged one who spent more than four hours a day looking at screens such as televisions, computers, tablets, or smartphones experienced developmental delays in communication and problem-solving skills at ages two and four, a new study has shown.
According to a study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, one-year-olds who were exposed to more screen time than their peers demonstrated delays in the development of fine motor and personal and social skills at the age of two.
The study included over 7,000 Japanese children and measured how many hours per day children used screens at age one based on reports from their mothers.
The researchers also looked into how the toddlers performed on various developmental tests between the age of two and four.
The study discovered that by the age of two, children who had spent up to four hours per day on screens were up to three times more likely to experience developmental delays in communication and problem-solving skills.
"We observed that screen time for children aged one year was associated with the fine motor and personal and social skills domains at age 2 years, however, this association was not confirmed at age 4 years. There are two possible hypotheses for this finding. One hypothesis is that the developmental delay of fine motor and personal and social skills for children aged 2 years caught up with them at age 4 years," the researchers said.
Moreover, the researchers said that children who spent four or more hours a day in front of a screen were nearly five times more likely to have poor communication skills, twice as likely to have poor personal and social skills, and nearly twice as likely to have poor motor skills.
In addition, communication and problem-solving skills were still an issue by the age of four.
The study also revealed that mothers of children who spent more time on screens were younger and more often first-time mothers, had lower incomes and education levels, and were more likely to suffer from postpartum depression.
According to the study’s authors, the research did not distinguish between screen time that was intended to be educational and screen time more focused on entertainment.