Too Much Screen Time Can Affect Early Childhood Brain Development

May 29, 2018

According the American Academy of Pedicatrics, children under 18 months should not engage in screen time. Amy Clancy, Director of Childcare Connections, discusses the importance of limiting a child's presence in front of screened technology. 

Clancy says the best way to monitor screen time is to talk with children as they are engaging in screen time. While there are no regulations on educational content, parents should be involved with how and what their children are looking at. 

On the importance of limiting screen time from birth to age two

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under the age of 2. Recently they did revise and lower it to 18 months, but I still think the two-year-old mark is a clear-cut mark. I believe it’s best practice to introduce screen time after the age of two.

During that critical period of development, children’s brains are wiring up. Too much screen time at the wrong time can actually change the architecture of their brain development. We really want to make sure that children are getting quality interactions during that period of time that’s wiring their brain and preparing them for the foundation for all learning that comes after that. 

There are no regulations or standards for content to be labeled as educational media.

On screen time limitations from two-years-old to teenage years

Again, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a maximum of two hours per day for children ages two and up. It’s a little bit harder for parents and educators to navigate that two-hour maximum for that age bracket. 

On determining quality content for children to engage in

A lot of the free apps and downloads are labeled as educational and kid-friendly, but that’s not necessarily true. There are no regulations or standards for content to be labeled as educational media. A good resource for parents to investigate and see if the media they’re choosing are educational, is commonsensemedia.org. It can be a really good tool for parents and educators.

On how adults can model good habits for children

Young children – children in general – take their cues from us as parents. What they see us do is what they see as important. It’s really important to model good behavior ourselves. When our children are engaging in screen time, we need to be right alongside them and talking to them. Adult involvement and engagement is what makes quality screen time – that’s what wires up the child’s brain. 

Time to Talk is produced with the Children's Coalition for Northeast Louisiana and BayouLife Magazine.