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Toddler Screentime Linked to Atypical Sensory Processing

Photo from Kelly Sikkema’s Instagram

Toddler Screentime Linked to Atypical Sensory Processing

By Movieguide® Contributor

A new study from JAMA found that children under 2 who had high exposure to television screen time had an increased chance for atypical sensory processing later in their adolescence.

The study analyzed data from a collection of 2014 surveys given to caregivers about their child’s sensory preferences, including their sensitivity, preference or avoidance of noise, light and textures.

The analysis revealed that any amount of regular screen exposure before “12 months of age was associated with a 2-fold increased odds” of atypical sensory processing. Higher exposure to screen time at 18 months of age was associated with a higher likelihood of sensory processing difficulties at about a 20% higher risk per hour of screen time.

While atypical sensory processing is often associated with conditions like autism, attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the issues can exist on their own. The study was unable to link screen time with higher rates of autism, ADHD or OCD.

Despite a growing number of studies revealing screen time’s negative effects on toddlers’ cognitive development, parents and experts alike find it difficult to unplug children from their screens.

“It’s very difficult to unplug a specific age population when everyone around them has screens on all the time,” said Dr. Emily Myers, a neurodevelopmental pediatrician at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital.

“I haven’t seen a lot of families actually have a lot of success with decreasing screen time,” Myers added. “Usually there’s some other really significant contextual factors which are interfering and need to be addressed, in addition to screen time.”

One of the most effective methods, however, is for parents to set a good example for their kids and restrict their own screen time while at home.

Movieguide® previously reported:

A recent study linked that when parents use their phone or computer around their kids to unwind it leads to worse parenting.  

Science Direct wrote, “This study examined caregivers’ psychological well-being, digital media use, and parenting practices, with a particular focus on specific aspects of media use.”

The study continued, “Caregivers (n = 549) with at least two children aged 5–18 participated in a multinational project examining family functioning and well-being amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents completed questionnaires assessing their psychological distress, media use habits, and parenting practices.” 

Science Direct concluded that there were “Comparisons of structural regression models revealed that operationalizing caregivers’ media use as a single general construct disregards important nuances in its relations to psychological distress and parenting. In a more detailed model, higher psychological distress was related to more screen time and media use for relaxation. Intrusions of media in interactions with family members and media use for relaxation were associated with lower-quality parenting.” 

“Lastly, less distressed caregivers were more likely to use media for maintaining social connections, which was associated with more positive and less negative parenting practices,” the study added. 

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Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.


4000+ Faith Based Articles and Movie Reviews – Will you Support Us?

Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.

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