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Low Scores on Developmental Screening Tests Among Toddlers Linked to Screen Time
  • A new study reiterates what we've already known so far: screen time has a significant impact on kids, and in many cases, excessive use can be detrimental to their health. 

    In particular, the study talks about how kids ages 2 to 5 scored low on developmental screening tests. This means that as far as their physical milestones are concerned, toddlers aren't hitting the mark as they should.

    For example, in the toddler phase, kids are generally expected to take their first few steps unassisted and grasp objects with their hands. However, as this study highlights, using gadgets does not give children opportunities for activities like walking, playing, or talking — they're just sitting still, using one finger to tap on the screen.

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    The paper explains it more in detail:

    When young children are observing screens, they may be missing important opportunities to practice and master interpersonal, motor, and communication skills. For example, when children are observing screens without an interactive or physical component, they are more sedentary and, therefore, not practicing gross motor skills, such as walking and running, which in turn may delay development in this area.

    The study raises another critical aspect of gadget use: it takes away from time meant for human interaction: 

    Screens can also disrupt interactions with caregivers by limiting opportunities for verbal and nonverbal social exchanges, which are essential for fostering optimal growth and development.

    “A lot of the positive stimulation that helps kids with their physical and cognitive development comes from interactions with caregivers,” said Sheri Madigan, lead author of the study, in a news release. “When they’re in front of their screens, these important parent-child interactions aren’t happening.”

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    That said, parents may feel better about this compromise : if a zero-gadgets environment is not possible, maybe increasing time spent talking with your children will lessen the adverse effects.

    This theory is aligned with an idea suggested by Michelle Lichauco-Tambunting, co-founder and directress of Young Creative Minds Preschool, when she spoke at the "Smart Parenting Mom Workshop: Raising Toddlers" in 2018.  

    "We are living in a digital age that's just going to get complex and complicated. If I stop [my child from using] it, mahuhuli siya (he'll get left behind)." Addressing parents in the audience, she told them to "work with gadgets, not against them." (Click here for examples on how you can use gadgets to get positive results.)

    Coupled with consistently-implemented rules, proper monitoring of screen time, and your presence and active participation in your child's life, gadgets can be an ally in raising your child.  

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