Ask Dr. Jean: Screentime and Child Development

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(Arti Freeman) #1

Dear Dr. Jean,

I am reading conflicting articles on the impact of screen time on child development. Some research indicates that too much screen time impacts development and I have read other articles that state it isn’t about the amount of screen time that matters but the content of what they are watching / playing / using. What are your thoughts on this from a development perspective?

Anonymous (Parent)


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(Dr. Jean Clinton) #2

This is certainly a very current and hot topic. I read daily reports on the issue from varying sources. I think there is little controversy that kids are spending a lot of time on screens and we don’t fully understand the impact it is having. Numerous reputable organizations are setting guidelines for families of Zero screen time under 2yrs old, One hour 2-5yrs old and maximum of 2 hours of recreational screen time for older children, See the American Academy website on earlier posts.

Studies are connecting lots of time on screens with poor attention, distractibility and more anxiety and depression. There clearly is something going on that people are correlating. However what is unknown is - is it the screen time itself, or the replacement of relationships and being face to face with people and resolving conflict etc. that is the problem?

My personal read of the literature is that we have allowed too much screen time to enter our children, even babies lives, and we are placing them at risk. Until we know differently I think we need to follow the guidelines BUT also have a positive alternative activity to engage in, like playing outside.

There is wonderful information available on www.naturecanada.ca about ways to do this all together.


(Thea Silver) #3

So glad you referenced the work by Nature Canada. The report they recently released - Screen Time vs Green Time - is chock full of information. @jsturdy from Nature Canada posted highlights on the Knowledge Centre Green People Hub. People can find it here - and join in the conversation!