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My husband and I are determined to keep our daughter's exposure to electronic devices/screens as little as possible. She is almost ten months old and we only entertain her with physical toys, physical interaction/talking, and she hears me practice (I'm a professional musician and she has had controlled interaction with instruments). We don't entertain her with our phones or tablets or the like. We actually keep her away from these entirely.

However, we have begun watching classic kids movies (in both my native Russian as well as English) with her on a large screen tv. We do this about three nights a week for, at most, half an hour an evening. She sits at a sufficient distance from the screen.

Is this a reasonable amount of screen exposure at this age? Is there any risk to exposure even at this level--risk to her development?

17

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that no amount of screen time is appropriate for a child of that age.

From their report on Children and media:

For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they're seeing.

This is not to suggest that some significant harm will occur with small amounts of screen time; but what happens is you lose valuable interaction time with her, and even if you weren't interacting with her during these times, you lose the opportunity for her to overhear your conversations with your husband and with her, and to interact physically with her environment. Her mind is expanding exponentially, and her body is likewise gaining coordination, strength, and an understanding of her physical space. Reducing some of this time is detrimental to her long-term development.

The other thing is that she doesn't really get anything out of watching these movies. She won't understand what's going on for the most part, having neither the vocabulary nor the imagination to do so, and she doesn't yet have a separation of "unreal" from "real". She'll appear to enjoy the show, and undoubtedly will be having a good time - but it's a good time because she's sitting there with her parents and getting some of their attention. Instead, I'd suggest telling her children's stories, or reading them from a book; she'll get much more out of that.

2
  • An overwhelming amount of sources state that it is very important for babies to listen to speech. It's probably safe to assume that by mere number of spoken words the TV can provide much more than the parents ever could. So this answer could be better if it explicitly mentioned how screen time does or does not contribute to this "important exposure to speech". – AndreKR Jan 23 at 21:17
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    @AndreKR Television is bad for speech, not good for it, unfortunately. That information is available in the AAP recommendations linked. I could go in detail here, but the answer seems long enough as it is. – Joe Jan 23 at 21:33
1
  • Screen time for children younger than 2 years is not recommended.
  • Higher levels of screen time is associated with a variety of health harms for children, especially for adiposity, unhealthy diet, depressive symptoms and quality of life.
  • The evidence for a threshold on screen time is weak.

REFERENCES:

RECOMMENDATIONS

Minimize screen time:

  • Screen time for children younger than 2 years is not recommended.
  • For children 2 to 5 years, limit routine or regular screen time to less than 1 hour per day.
  • Ensure that sedentary screen time is not a routine part of child care for children younger than 5 years.
  • Maintain daily ‘screen-free’ times, especially for family meals and book-sharing.
  • Avoid screens for at least 1 hour before bedtime, given the potential for melatonin-suppressing effects.

Canadian Paediatric Society, Digital Health Task Force, Ottawa, Ontario . Screen time and young children: Promoting health and development in a digital world [published correction appears in Paediatr Child Health. 2018 Feb;23 (1):83]. Paediatr Child Health. 2017;22(8):461-477. doi:10.1093/pch/pxx123: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5823000/


There is considerable evidence that higher levels of screentime is associated with a variety of health harms for CYP [(children and young people)], with evidence strongest for adiposity, unhealthy diet, depressive symptoms and quality of life. Evidence for impact on other health outcomes is largely weak or absent. We found no consistent evidence of health benefits from screentime. While evidence for a threshold to guide policy on CYP screentime exposure was very limited, there is weak evidence that small amounts of daily screen use is not harmful and may have some benefits.

These data broadly support policy action to limit screen use by CYP because of evidence of health harms across a broad range of domains of physical and mental health. We did not identify a threshold for safe screen use, although we note there was weak evidence for a threshold of 2 hours daily screentime for the associations with depressive symptoms and with HRQOL [(health-related quality of life)]. We did not identify evidence supporting differential thresholds for younger children or adolescents.

Stiglic N, Viner RM. Effects of screentime on the health and well-being of children and adolescents: a systematic review of reviews. BMJ Open. 2019;9(1):e023191. Published 2019 Jan 3. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-023191: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326346/


Pre-school children spend an average of two-hours daily using screens. We examined associations between screen-time on pre-school behavior using data from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) study. [...] Compared to children with less than 30-minutes/day screen-time, those watching more than two-hours/day (13·7%) [...] had a 7·7-fold increased risk of meeting criteria for ADHD (95%CI: 1·6, 38·1, p = 0·01).

Conclusion

Increased screen-time in pre-school is associated with worse inattention problems.

Tamana SK, Ezeugwu V, Chikuma J, et al. Screen-time is associated with inattention problems in preschoolers: Results from the CHILD birth cohort study. PLoS One. 2019;14(4):e0213995. Published 2019 Apr 17. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0213995: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6469768/

SEE ALSO:

Why is technology bad for children?
Is TV harmful to my infant's development?
At what age should a child be introduced to the Television?

-1

Nowadays parents use screentime to feed their kids because children do not resist to eating. Also, when they need to to sth such as cleaning and child wants attention. So, the screen time is kind of a 'sad' solution. So, you should be proud of yourself that you manage parenting without bribe of screen. I think you should follow your children tolerance of other activities after screen starts to be part of her life. So, let me explain this way. Because the screen provides variety of color and changing of images, children start to see this kind of changes as a norm. That's why they watch the ads like hypnotized. They get used to it. And the real life becomes so dull. Especially when they have to sit and write on a white paper, they feel that it is an unbearable dullness. So, I think you should follow her tolerance level of the other activities.

-3

None!

Their eyes and brains are still developing and this would harm the baby's development.

Plus what Joe said above.

Not to mention any issues with blue light or EM issues.

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    What is the scientific evidence for the EM issues? – Timur Shtatland Jan 24 at 2:58

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