There’s a new study that suggests more screen time for toddlers and preschool aged children is linked to a higher risk of ADHD. For a lot of parents this doesn’t come as much of a surprise as many studies in the last several years have found that the more time a child spends in front of an electronic screen, the more likely they are to have long-term issues.
According to ABC News, a new study by a team of researchers at the University of Alberta is giving parents more reason to worry about the effects that tablets have on small children. Kids who spend an average of two hours a day looking at an electronic screen were about 7.7 times more likely to meet the criteria for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by the time they reached the age of 5. The data was compared to children who only spent 30 minutes or less a day in front of a device or even a television screen.
Dr. Piush Mandhane, the lead researcher of the study and an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, in Canada, told ABC News in an interview, “Children should develop a healthy relationship with screens as young as 3 to 5 years of age. Our data suggests that between zero and 30 minutes per day is the optimal amount of screen time.”
Researchers also noted that children who spent an excessive amount of time in front of a screen were more likely to exhibit behavioral issues and a poor attention span. Those kids who were more engaged in physical activities were less likely to experience mental health issues compared to their screen-loving counterparts.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should only spend a maximum of one hour a day in front of their iPad or electronic devices. Their allotted screen time should also be used on high-quality or educational programming.
Luckily, there are several things that parents can do to help keep their children entertained at restaurants, office waits, plane rides, and more. Giving your child an electronic tablet for “quiet time” isn’t always the only option. Reading a book, coloring, or simply playing traditional games with mom and dad are just a few easy ways to pass the time without having your child glued to a screen for several hours at a time.