*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on StudyFinds.
Technology may help older children and adults connect with the world, but for toddlers, too much screen time may be doing lasting harm before they even enter school. Researchers in Finland find children under five who excessively use video games, mobile phones, and other digital devices are displaying emotional and behavioral issues by the time they reach preschool.
Their study reveals these youngsters suffer from hyperactivity, short attention spans, and poor concentration. Children who spend more than an hour a day watching screens are also less likely to make friends.
The number of preschoolers, or kids between two and five-years-old, using mobile phones and tablets tripled between 2013 and 2017. This is raising concerns that too much screen time hinders a child’s development by affecting language and social skills, as well as fostering addictive behavior.
Now, researchers from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare are adding psychological problems to the list of parental worries.
“Our results show that 5-year-old children spend considerably more time on e-media than is recommended by professionals,” says corresponding author Dr. Juulia Paavonen in a media release. “Our results further indicate that high levels of e-media use, especially program viewing, is associated with problems with psychosocial outcomes, while use of electronic games was only associated with hyperactivity in the crude models.”
The results reveal kids who spent too much time looking at screens when they were 18 months-old were 59 percent more likely to struggle with making friends. At five-years-old, watching too many videos also heightened the risk of attention and concentration difficulties. Hyperactivity, impulsivity, emotional and behavioral problems also increased.
The findings appear in the journal BMJ Open.