Kids under 2 spent more than three hours a day in front of a screen, on average, in 2014, versus less than an hour and a half per day in 1997

By Jen Juneau
February 20, 2019 12:55 PM
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Kids and babies under age 2 are spending more than double the time in front of screens than they did in the 1990s, a new study has found.

The research, published in the JAMA Pediatrics journal on Monday, extrapolated its results based on journals from parents of children in that age group, Good Morning America reports.

For the purposes of the study, parents in 1997 and 2014 logged the amount of time their kids spent in front of a screen and the results showed that compared to about 1.32 hours per day in 1997, children under the age of 2 in 2014 were having around 3.05 hours of screen time a day.

According to GMA, the study noted that most of that time was spent watching TV as opposed to interacting with a digital device, such as a smartphone or tablet.

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The findings come three weeks after another study, also published in JAMA Pediatrics, found that “Excessive screen time has been associated with various negative outcomes, including cognitive delays and poorer academic performance” in children.

Conducted in part by University of Calgary assistant professor of psychology Sheri Madigan, the research process looked at the electronic-device habits of almost 2,500 women and their children, who were aged 2 to 5.

The mothers reported their kids’ computer and television habits throughout the three-year timeframe, as well as answered questions surrounding their development, social relationships and behaviors. Researchers then compared the data from ages 2, 3 and 5 to find patterns.

On average, the study saw children having two to three hours a day of screen time, which was linked with the aforementioned negative performance outcomes.

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Recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics say that the only screen time they advise for children younger than 18 months to 2 years old is video chatting.

For ages 2 to 5, they encourage no more than one hour “of high-quality programming” per day, strongly encouraging parents to watch with their children and “[re-teach] in the real world what they just learned through a screen.”

The AAP also recommends limiting background digital media (such as a TV on during dinner), as well as screen-powered devices in bedrooms, at mealtimes, during social events, etc.