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Toddlers get too much screen time, study says

Researchers have found that most children are exceeding the recommended screen-time guidelines.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Today’s toddlers are spending more time watching phones, tablets and TV than ever before, according to a recent study.

The study looked at more than 1,000 two and three-year-old children.

Researchers found most of the children exceeded recommended screen-time guidelines, which call for a daily maximum of one-hour of screen time per day.

“They found that 79 percent of two-year-olds and 97 percent of three-year-olds actually exceed those guidelines,” said Eva Love, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic Children’s, who did not take part in the study. “But, the most striking finding, was that the most common variable between those two age groups, leading to excessive screen time, was actually maternal screen time use, meaning how much mom was looking at her screens.” 

Dr. Love said children will do what their parents do – and this study shows us parents need to take a look at their media habits too.

She said from infancy through age five, children are undergoing rapid brain development. So, when children are on screens, they are missing out on the face-to-face interaction that is essential for their ability to communicate, socialize, and speak clearly.

“Excessive screen time can actually directly impact cognitive and physical development,” said Dr. Love. “It’s important to understand that when kids are on a screen, and they’re sitting – they’re not walking, they’re not running, they’re not engaging with motor skills, and they’re also not having those social exchanges with their caregivers.” 

Dr. Love admits that we live in a digital era, and it’s impossible to avoid screens all-together. She suggests families develop a media plan that applies to everyone in the household, to better manage their screen habits.

Complete results of the study can be found in JAMA Pediatrics.

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