Parenting Tips screen-time-web

Published on May 2nd, 2014 | by Bright Kids Books


Wellbeing of preschoolers at risk from increased exposure to smartphones, tablets, computer games

Miki Perkins | The Age

When young children clamour to watch another episode or seven of their favourite TV shows, frazzled parents often find themselves caving in to their offspring’s requests.

But a new Australian-led study has found that increased electronic media use — including smartphones, tablets and computer games — can lead to poorer psychological health in preschool children.

While the link between children’s sedentary time spent on the couch and poor physical health has been well established, looking at psychological and social wellbeing is a new research area, said study co-author and National Health and Medical Research Council council early career fellow Dr Trina Hinkley.

“For a long time we thought that kids this age couldn’t sit still enough to watch enough TV to be a problem,” said Dr Hinkley.

“But now we’re seeing they are sitting more and engaging with new media and so we are looking at detrimental effects because of these behaviours.”

Researchers found scores on a measure of poor psychological and social health could as much as double with each additional hour of television or computer use.

One hypothesis is that watching too much television reduces the opportunity for young children to engage socially and learn to manage their emotions through play.

Very fast-paced cartoons, aggressive or violent shows may be more detrimental than educational shows, but the bulk of evidence suggests it is the total volume, not just content alone that matters, Dr Hinkley said.

The study found that young children with higher levels of television viewing were also at increased risk for poor family functioning.

Poor well-being during early childhood is associated with later depression and hostile and aggressive behaviour.


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