In a recent Best Practice article for The Alabama Pediatrician, Jaime McKinney, MD, FAAP a Reach Out and Read-Alabama practitioner and Associate Professor, UAB Division of Academic Pediatrics, offered some important information in addressing screen time with parents and caregivers.
“As our children spend the first four to five years of their lives in front of a device (and not a book), thousands of hours in front of a screen has various adverse effects on a rapidly developing brain. There are numerous evidence-based studies correlating excessive screen time to trouble sleeping, attention deficits, learning troubles, aggressive behaviors, delays in language. Addressing screen time in our patients from infancy and promoting reading out loud would help to eliminate root causes of academic underachievement, behavioral complaints, and low reading proficiency. Most importantly, could we prevent many of these “salad” problems associated with early exposure and excessive screen time?
“During your well-child visits, inquire about the child’s daily duration of screen time. Incorporate this discussion and its risks as part of newborn nursery anticipatory guidance. Use the AAP’s Family Media Plan toolkit and hang the screen time posters in exam rooms. Ask parents to explore alternative, screen-free ways to entertain their children. There are parental phone apps like “Vroom” that provide age-appropriate screen-free activities. Addressing screen time is a fundamental way to intervene with our state’s long-standing record of academic underachievement. Additionally, we are creating room for learning and books to come in the homes.”
For more information on screen use in small children visit https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/2538-screen-sense-all-the-need-to-know-research-on-screens-for-children-under-three.