*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on MedicalXpress.
New research from the University of California, Davis, suggests that parents should delay introducing their children to any screen media, as well as limit preschool-age children’s use of mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets.
The research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics. Over a two-and-a-half-year period, researchers assessed 56 children aged 32 to 47 months and surveyed their parents. The research team assessed children’s self-regulation skills, or those skills needed to plan, control, and monitor their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Young children’s self-regulation skills predict later academic success, social functioning, physical and mental health, income, and criminality.
Self-regulation skills were lower among children who began using any screen media devices (including television, computers, smartphones, and/or tablets) earlier in life, or who currently used mobile devices (smartphones and/or tablets) more often than others in the sample.
“Young children are often exposed to substantial amounts of screen media. Even though consumption of moderate amounts of high-quality children’s media has been established to have a positive influence on development, the current findings support limiting children’s use of mobile devices,” said the study’s primary author, Amanda C. Lawrence, a doctoral candidate in the Human Development Graduate Group at UC Davis. Co-authors are Daniel Ewon Choe, assistant professor of human development and family studies, and Madhuri S. Narayan, who was an undergraduate student when working on the research.
Researchers voiced other reasons for the cautious use of mobile devices by young children. “The portable nature of mobile devices allows them to be used in any location, such as while waiting for appointments, or in line at a grocery store. The screen use, then, could interfere with sensitive and responsive interactions with parents or practicing self-soothing behaviors that support optimal development,” said Lawrence.