Screen time in young children is discouraged because of its negative effects on their development. However, excessive screen media use has been rising, particularly during the global pandemic when stay-at-home mandates were placed on young children in several countries. This study documents potential developmental effects of excessive screen media use.
This is a cross-sectional study. Participants were 24 to 36 month old Filipino children recruited through non-probable convenience sampling from August to October 2021. Regression analyses were performed to test the association between screen time and changes in scaled scores for skills and behaviors determined from the Adaptive Behavior Scale and to identify factors associated with increased screen media use.
Increased odds of excessive use of screen media of children by 4.19 when parents watch excessively and 8.56 times greater odds when children are alone compared to watching with a parent or other children. When adjusted for co-viewing, more than 2 h of screen time is significantly associated with decrease in receptive and expressive language scores. The effects on personal skills, interpersonal relationships and play and leisure skills were only statistically significant at 4 to 5 or more hours of screen time use. Conclusion: The study found that spending no more than 2 h screen time had minimal negative effects on development and that use beyond 2 h was associated with poorer language development among 2 year olds. There is less excessive screen media use when a child co-views with an adult, sibling or other child and when parents likewise have less screen time themselves.
Dy, A.B.C., Dy, A.B.C. & Santos, S.K. Measuring effects of screen time on the development of children in the Philippines: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health 23, 1261 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-023-16188-4