A study published in JAMA Pediatrics tracked the relationship between the number of hours per day a child is exposed to screen time at age one and key measures of child development at ages 2 and 4.
The study, which was conducted in Japan, tracked 7,097 mother-child pairs. 3,440 of the children (48.5%) were exposed to less than one hour of screen time per day at age 1; 29.5% had between 1 and 2 hours of daily screen time; and 17.9% had between 2 and 4 hours.
More screen time was associated with a higher risk of developmental delay by age 2 in the areas of communication, fine motor, problem-solving, and personal and social skills. At the age of 4, developmental delays in communication and problem-solving continued to be observed.
Researchers and child development experts note that the harm to communication skills could stem from more hours of screen time translating to fewer opportunities for verbal interaction between young children and their adult caregivers.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that educational programs should be chosen when children are introduced to digital media between the ages of 18 and 24 months.