Recent research has demonstrated that screen time can have substantial effects on toddlers. While much of this relates to the content of what they are viewing, the amount of time they are exposed to screens also has an impact. While screens can provide educational opportunities and enriching experiences for toddlers, there are also potential dangers that parents need to be aware of. The purpose of this blog post is to provide an overview of the potential effects of screen time on toddlers, along with strategies for parents to consider in managing their child’s screen time. We will discuss current research, the potential risks of too much screen time, and how to ensure that toddlers are getting the most out of the time they spend using screens.
1. Impact on physical development
One of the most concerning effects of too much screen time for toddlers is the impact it can have on their physical development. According to research, children who spend more time engaging with screens are more likely to be overweight, due to reduced physical activity. Additionally, too much screen time can lead to poor posture, sleep disturbances, and problems with eyesight. It can also cause a delay in fine and gross motor skills, as toddlers are not developing the muscles necessary for these skills when they are sitting in front of a screen.
2. Impact on cognitive development
Screen time can have a big impact on cognitive development in toddlers. If a young child spends too much time in front of screens, it can delay their development of important skills like language learning and problem-solving. Toddlers who are exposed to too much screen time may also have difficulty forming strong relationships with their peers and adults. Over-exposure to screens can also lead to changes in toddlers’ sleeping patterns, resulting in more difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.
3. Increased risk of obesity
One of the most serious effects of extended screen time for toddlers is the increased risk of obesity. Toddlers who are exposed to excessive amounts of screen time are more likely to adopt unhealthy eating habits due to the influence of the imagery and sounds associated with television and computers. They may also become sedentary and be less likely to participate in physical activities. This can lead to an increased risk of obesity which can have a long-term effect on their overall health and well-being.
4. Social and emotional development
Screen time has a huge impact on the social and emotional development of toddlers. Research has found that increased interactive screen time, for example, playing an educational game on a tablet with a parent, can have a positive effect on social skills. On the other hand, too much passive screen time, such as watching television, can be detrimental to social and emotional growth. It can lead to delayed language development, difficulty with communication, and decreased levels of empathy. Parents should be mindful of how much time their toddlers are spending in front of a screen, and ensure that the activities are interactive and engaging.
5. Increased risk of sleep disruption
One of the most concerning risks associated with toddlers spending too much time in front of screens is the potential for disrupted sleep. Screen time, especially before bed, can make it harder for toddlers to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. This is due to the stimulation screens provide, which can make it difficult to shut off, resulting in a lack of the necessary hormones needed to sleep soundly. To help ensure quality sleep, parents should limit screen time in the hour before bedtime and ensure that their toddlers are getting enough physical activity during the day to promote good sleep.
In conclusion, parents should be aware of the effect of screen time on toddlers and take active measures to balance it. Creating a digital media plan to monitor and set limits to the amount of screen time your toddler has can help you manage their media consumption and make sure they’re not overexposed to screens. Remember, balance is key and you can still incorporate digital media into your toddler’s learning and play.