More screen time can affect language skills of your kids

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It may be hard to take away a gadget from your kid who has been glued to it for a long time.

But, beware, it will not do good to his language skills as people believe. Instead it can harm to their literary skills, says a new study.

The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, showed that children who have more screen time have lower structural integrity of white matter tracts in parts of the brain that support language and other emergent literacy skills. These skills include imagery and executive function — the process involving mental control and self-regulation. These children also have lower scores on language and literacy measures.

The Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center has done the study which assessed screen time in terms of American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations. The AAP recommendations not only take into account time spent in front of screens but also access to screens, including portable devices; content; and who children are with and how they interact when they are looking at screens.

“This study raises questions as to whether at least some aspects of screen-based media use in early childhood may provide sub-optimal stimulation during this rapid, formative state of brain development,” says John Hutton, MD, director of the, Reading & Literacy Discovery Center at Cincinnati Children’s and lead author of the study. “While we can’t yet determine whether screen time causes these structural changes or implies long-term neurodevelopmental risks, these findings warrant further study to understand what they mean and how to set appropriate limits on technology use.”

The AAP has some clear recommendations with regard to the use of screen. For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing, it says.

For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them. Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms, according to AAP.

“Screen-based media use is prevalent and increasing in home, childcare and school settings at ever younger ages,” says Dr. Hutton. “These findings highlight the need to understand effects of screen time on the brain, particularly during stages of dynamic brain development in early childhood, so that providers, policymakers and parents can set healthy limits.”

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