According to a new study, letting infants watch tablets and TV can harm their academic success and emotional well-being later.
According to the study published Monday in the JAMA Pediatrics journal.
Executive functioning skills are mental processes that “enable us to plan, focus our attention, remember instructions, and successfully juggle multiple tasks,” according to the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child.
These executive functioning skills are important for higher-order cognition, such as emotional regulation, learning, academic achievement and mental health, according to the study. They influence our success socially, academically, professionally and in how we take care of ourselves, said Dr. Erika Chiappini, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine at Baltimore.
“While these cognitive processes develop naturally from infancy through adulthood, they are also impacted by the experiences we have and when we have them in our development,” said Chiappini, who was not involved in the study. the study, in an e-mail.
The results support recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which discourages all screen time before 18 months, with the exception of video chatting, said Dr. Joyce Harrison, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Harrison was not involved in the research.
The study looked at data from Singapore Growing Up Towards Healthy Outcomes, or GUSTO, which surveyed women from all socioeconomic backgrounds during their first trimester of pregnancy. The sample consisted of 437 children who underwent electroencephalography (EEG) scans, which are used to examine the neural pathways of cognitive functions. In the brain, at 1, 18 months and 9 years.
Parents reported each child’s screen time, and researchers found there was an association between screen time during infancy and attention and executive function at age 9, according to the study.
Further research is needed, however, to determine whether screen time has caused impairments in executive function or whether there are other factors in the child’s environment that predispose him to both more screen time and lower executive functioning, the study notes.
In a time of learning-heavy like early childhood, one of the big problems with using screens is that young children don’t learn much from them, according to the AAP.
“Nothing replaces adult interaction, modeling and teaching,” Harrison said.
Babies have trouble interpreting information presented in two dimensions, such as on screens, and have trouble distinguishing fantasy from reality, Chiappini said.
“Babies and children are also social learners and benefit a lot from back-and-forth interaction with others (adults and children), which is difficult to achieve with screens,” Chiappini said via email. .
When it comes to emotional regulation, infants and toddlers can learn from their caregivers when they model self-control or help label appropriate emotions and expressions, she added.
For example, you can give a young child options for what to do when angry, such as pausing or taking deep breaths instead of inappropriate behaviors like hitting, Harrison said.
Talking about emotions can be too abstract for preschoolers, and in those cases, using color boxes to talk about emotions can be helpful, said Dr. Jenny Radesky, behavioral developmental pediatrician and teacher. Fellow of Pediatrics at Michigan Medicine CS Mott Children’s Hospital. . Radesky was not involved in the research.
Calm and content can be green; worried or agitated may be yellow; and upset or angry can be red, using graphics or pictures of faces to help children match how they feel with their color zone. To reinforce it, adults can talk about their own emotions in terms of colors in front of their children, Radesky said in a previous CNN article.
Parents and children can browse colors together and come up with soothing tools for different zones, she added.
To build these executive function skills, Harrison says it’s important to provide structured engagement where a child can work on solving problems to the extent that they can at their developmental level — instead of having problems solved. for him.
And yet, sometimes parents just need to do laundry or attend a business meeting, and screens can seem like an effective distraction.
For very young children, it’s probably best to avoid screen time, Harrison pointed out.
Instead, try involving the child in household chores, she says.
“Give your toddler clothes to fold by your side while you try to do laundry or keep your baby safely in a position where you can make frequent eye contact while you do your chore,” says Harrison via email.
For older preschoolers, save your screen time to use it strategically, she said.
“For example, their screen time might be reserved for a time when you need to attend an important video meeting,” Harrison said.
And there’s content that can help teach emotional regulation when your tank is empty. Finding media that aims to speak directly to children about emotions — like Daniel Tiger or Elmo Belly Breathing — can be like meditation instead of distraction, Radesky previously told CNN.
And you can improve screen time by engaging your child while they watch, Chiappini said. Ask questions like, “How does this character feel?” and “What could they do to help their friend?” she added.
Raising children is a complex and sometimes overwhelming task, and no caregiver can give their child everything they want all the time, Radesky said.