The screens (television, computer, tablet and smartphone) are now part of everyday life for most families. While entertaining and practical in some situations, screens can have many disadvantages for children's health and development. This is why it is not recommended that babies be exposed, unless it is to communicate using a video chat application.
No screen before 2 years
In North America and Europe, several public health departments and pediatric associations have made recommendations regarding the exposure of toddlers to screens.
In Canada, the Canadian Pediatric Society , the Canadian Sedentary Behavior Guidelines, and the Montreal Public Health Directorate agree that before 2 years , ideally, a toddler should not be exposed to television. or any other screen.
In the United States, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) indicates that children 18 months old and under should not be exposed to screens unless it is to use a video chat application (ex: Skype and FaceTime).
The role of screens in the development of children
Much research has focused on the role of television in the development of toddlers. Most concluded that television is not necessarily beneficial to the development of young children. Some educational programs could, however, have a positive effect on their development.
Research also argues that a child's interactions with his environment and environment are the best source of stimulation for him. However, the more a child spends time in front of a screen during a day, the less he will have to play and interact with others. It has even been shown that the constant background noise of the TV left on when no one is watching it would be detrimental to the child's learning.
Physical Fitness and Motor Skills
Too much exposure to screens decreases the amount of time children spend moving on a daily basis. Indeed, the use of screens is often at the expense of physical activities and free play . Children 4 to 6 years old who spend more than 2 hours a day in front of a screen would play 30 minutes less outdoors than others of their age. In addition, spending several hours per day in front of a screen would be linked to an increased risk of overweight and obesity .
A sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity may also affect the development of motor skills such as walking, running, throwing, jumping, crawling, etc. These motor skills are essential to the overall development of the child.
Screen time for infants: Other effects on development
According to several studies, too much exposure to small screens could also harm:
- language development ;
- the quality of sleep ;
- to the attention ;
- behavior ( aggression , passivity, self-esteem );
- to academic success;
- health in general (in addition to obesity and overweight: fatigue, headaches, posture problems, poor nutrition, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, long-term cardiovascular problems, etc.)
DVD to develop baby language
Studies have clearly shown that specially designed DVDs for babies have no effect on language development. Worse, in the youngest babies, they would even be associated with a more restricted vocabulary..
And the tablet?
Some experts believe that the tablet could be a more interesting learning tool than television because of its interactivity, provided it is used sparingly and not used as a TV to watch a program or movie.
Screens and daycare
Until recently, it was allowed to use the screens in daycare if it was part of the educational program. It is now rather advisable to avoid the use of television or audio-visual equipment in educational childcare .
"The child care setting can discuss recommendations about time spent on the screen with parents and the importance of increasing physical activity. Similarly, if parents are concerned about the use of screens in child care settings, they should talk about it. "
Many parents think that young children do not understand adult programming (eg, teleromans, police programs and news bulletins). However, more and more studies show that the content of these programs can leave a strong impression on toddlers. It is better not to let your child watch adult programming. If, however, your child should be exposed to this type of programming, it is always better for an adult to be present to talk to the child about what he sees on the screen and to be able to answer his questions..
Julie Poissant, Early childhood researcher, National Institute of Public Health of Quebec
(Source: Naître et grandir magazine, September 2014)
According to a survey conducted in the CPE of Montreal, only 4% of educators say that children in their group watch TV shows every day and 3% that they watch movies every day. The survey does not provide information on the situation in family-based daycares, but some American studies suggest that the use of television is more important. It is therefore possible that the time children spend in front of the TV, ignoring daycare viewing, is underestimated.
References and Resources
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- CENTER ON MEDIA AND CHILD HEALTH. cmch.tv
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- COLLECTIVE. The child and the screens. Institute of France, Academy of Sciences, 2013. www.academie-sciences.fr
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- ENCYCLOPEDIA ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF YOUNG CHILDREN. Technology in early childhood education. www.enfant-encyclopedie.com
- Harvard Family Research Project. Research Spotlight: Families and Digital Media in Young Children's Learning. www.hfrp.org
- LERNER, Claire and Rachel BARR. Screen Sense: Setting the Record Straight. Research-Based Guidelines for Screening for Children Under 3 Years Old.
- ZERO TO THREE. www.zerotothree.org
- BORN AND GROW. Too much early television would reduce children's abilities at school. naitreetgrandir.com
- BORN AND GROW. Early TV would hurt children's fitness. naitreetgrandir.com
- BORN AND GROW. Language: foster interactions rather than television. naitreetgrandir.com
- BORN AND GROW. TV in the background: harmful for development. naitreetgrandir.com
- PAGANI, LS, C. FITZPATRICK and TA BARNETT. Early childhood television viewing and kindergarten entry readiness. Pediatric Research, vol. 74, n o 3, September 2013, p. 350-355. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
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- CANADIAN PEDIATRIC SOCIETY. Healthy Active Living: Guidelines for Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Position Paper, April 2012. www.cps.ca
- CANADIAN SOCIETY OF PHYSIOLOGY OF THE YEAR. Canadian Sedentary Behavior Guidelines. www.csep.ca
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- ZIMMERMAN, Frederick J., Dimitri A. CHRISTAKIS and Andrew N. MELTZOFF. Associations between media and language development in children under age 2 years. The Journal of Pediatrics, vol. 151, n o 4, 2007, p. 364-368. www.jpeds.com
- ZIMMERMAN, Frederick J., Dimitri A. CHRISTAKIS and Andrew N. MELTZOFF. Television and DVD / video viewing in children younger than 2 years. JAMA Pediatrics, vol. 161, n o 5, May 2007, p. 473-479. archpedi.jamanetwork.com