The latest generations of children have grown up with smart phones, televisions and tablets being part of their daily lives. Scientists are now asking “Could the new digital century effect a child’s brain or way of thinking”? What are the effects of screen time for kids?

Effects of Screen Time

The truth is, we aren’t sure. Early results from a National Institute of Health study seem to show that heavy screen use is correlated with lower scores on some aptitude tests and even some early brain changes. (Early signs of cortical thinning– the brains grey matter gets compressed–may occur earlier in young iPad junkies.)

It is important to know, however, that the early results are mixed and not yet conclusive. You may want to toss your TV – just on general principles – but, there’s a lot more work to be done before we accurately can predict how screen time affects sensitive little brains.

Screen Time Recommendations for Kids

In the meantime, we do have screen time recommendations for toddlers and children. The American Academy of Pediatrics screen time recommendation is that children under the age of 18-months skip screen time and just play with you, their siblings, pets, toys and the endlessly fascinating outdoors.  Children over 18-months can have a bit of screen time, preferably non-violent nature shows and responsibly produced programming like Sesame Street. From 2 to 5 years, the AAP recommends no more than 1 hour a day of high-quality programming like Sesame Street or PBS kids shows.

What scientists have definitely proven is that speaking with children is very nourishing to developing brains. So, whenever you can, watch the program with your child and use it as an opportunity to enrich the experience with a few questions and bit of discussion.

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