Study Finds a Mere Hour Of Screen Time Could Harm Toddlers

New research suggests that even one hour a day of iPad usage might harm a child’s development.

Even in infants as young as one year old, researchers from Philadelphia’s Drexel University found a disturbing association between screen use and anomalies in sensory behavior. The research found that the likelihood of engaging in behaviors such as not answering when their names were called was doubled for children who spent time in front of screens.

The likelihood of sensory behavior disorders in children who used digital media increased twofold for every extra hour they spent in front of the screen compared to children who did not use digital media.

Some symptoms of sensory processing impairment in children include heightened sensitivity to light and sound or an aggressive pursuit of stimulation by other means. This condition is often seen in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Despite several studies showing the harmful consequences of screen addiction, children are spending more time than ever before staring at devices.

From one hour and nineteen minutes in 1997 to more than three hours in 2014, screen time for American youngsters aged two and under increased dramatically.

Roughly half of all parents said their kids watch at least 30 minutes of screen time daily. Eight percent of parents said their kids watched for three to five hours daily, while 18% said they watched for two.

By the time a child reaches 18 months, a one-hour increase in their daily screen use is connected with a 23% increase in the risk that they may exhibit sensory responses like not responding when called or avoiding sensations.

When seeking sensations, they may exhibit behaviors such as staring at bright lights, watching ceiling fans spin, whirling in circles, biting or touching things often, or being exposed to loud sounds.

People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) sometimes have trouble processing sensory information, such as odors and noises. Researchers found that those who spend a lot of time in front of screens may be more likely to exhibit indications of autism spectrum disorder. They postulate that screen time’s effects on sensory development could account for this correlation.