The average daily time spent by children before television, computer and phone screens has increased from 53 minutes at the age of one to more than 150 minutes at age three, says an analytical study conducted by researchers at the National Institute of Health (NIH), University at Albany and the New York University Langone Medical Center. By age eight, children were more likely to log the highest amount of on-screen time if they are in home-based child care or are raised by first-time mothers, says the study published in JAMA Pediatrics (November 2019).
The researchers surveyed mothers of nearly 4,000 children who responded to questions on their children’s media habits when the latter were 12, 18, 24, 30, and 36 months of age. “Our results indicate that digital screen addiction begins in early years. This finding suggests that interventions to reduce screen time could have a better chance of success if introduced early,” says Edwina Yeung, the study’s senior author and investigator in the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.