*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on ScienceDaily.
Experts are urging parents to brush up on national guidelines following a rapid rise in screen time on electronic devices for children under two.
A University of Queensland study found some young children might average 50 minutes per day, where the national guidelines called for zero screen time in children under the age of two.
UQ School of Public Health lead author Associate Professor Leigh Tooth said the guidelines were there to give children the best start in life.
“We were surprised to see the rapid increase in screen time from the first month of infancy,” Dr Tooth said.
“Children are spending almost an hour per day in front of a screen before they turn one.”
Dr Tooth’s study showed screen time quickly increased with age before plateauing around three years, at an average of 94 minutes per weekday.
Screen time only fell into line with national guidelines when children moved into childcare and school, while weekends continued to spike well above the guidelines.
The Australian government, World Health Organization and other international bodies promote the same guidelines of zero screen time under two years.
“We need to let people know that young children should not be in front of a screen for long periods because there is emerging evidence this could be detrimental to their development and growth,” she said.
“Screen time represents a missed opportunity where children could be practising and mastering a developmental skill, like skipping and jumping, over being sedentary and transfixed to a screen.
“This is particularly important in children under two who should not be spending any time in front of a screen.”
The study appeared in the Medical Journal of Australia.