INFANTS who spend more time glued to television screens perform worse in developmental tests, a study suggests.
Japanese researchers questioned parents about how many hours their children spent watching TV or DVDs at the ages of one, two and three.
The youngsters then completed assessments of their communication, motor skills, problem solving and social abilities.Increased screen time at ages one and two was linked to worse test scores later.
Writing in the journal Jama Paediatrics, the researchers said: “In this study, increased TV/DVD screen time from age one year negatively affected later development.
“To reduce the negative consequences of excessive media use, researchers and health care professionals should encourage family media management and recommend social support for parents who tend to rely on the media.”
The study involved 58,000 children. Only around a quarter limited their screen time to no more than one hour per day.
The study noted that children who frequently had books read to them, went to childcare, or had older siblings tended to have higher developmental scores and lower screen time.
However, the researchers said it was not clear whether too much TV directly worsened children’s development, or whether children with poor development were more likely to watch TV.
The experts recommended parents ensure their children have plenty of time for face-to-face interaction with family members and other children, and come up with a “media plan” to limit screen time.