Here’s the worst time of day to allow a child screen time

Here's the worst time of day to allow a child screen time

To better understand the interactions between time spent in front of a screen and a child’s cognitive development, a large French study demonstrates that it is the context of screen use and the family environment that play a preponderant role. Be careful, however, not to minimize their impact at certain times of the day.

French scientists from Inserm investigated the impact of excessive exposure to screens within a group of 14,000 children aged 2.5 to 5.5 years, from the Elfe cohort, for “study French longitudinal study since childhood.

The important role of the family environment in child development

The overexposure of children to screens, whether computers, smartphones, television, tablets or even video games, has worried childhood specialists for many years.

The scientists therefore assessed these children’s language development at 2 years old, their non-verbal reasoning at 3.5 years old and their overall cognitive development at 3.5 and 5.5 years old.

And indeed, “At ages 3.5 and 5.5 years, screen time was associated with poorer overall cognitive development scores, particularly in the areas of fine motor skills, language, and independence. they note. “However, when lifestyle factors likely to influence cognitive development were taken into account (…), the negative relationship was reduced and became of low magnitude.

If the impact of screens can therefore be limited by an adequate family environment, there is a particular time of the day which must be free of all screens…

No screens during meals!

Indeed, during this study, the parents of the children studied were asked to indicate their child’s daily screen time but above all to specify whether the television was on during meals.

Results: “IRegardless of exposure time, having the television on during family meals at age 2 (which affected 41% of children) was associated with poorer language development scores at the same age. These children also had poorer overall cognitive development at 3 and a half years old. explain Inserm scientists.

Prioritize discussions and dialogue with your child

For Shuai Yang, doctoral student and first author of the study, “This could be explained by the fact that television, by capturing the attention of family members, interferes with the quality and quantity of interactions between parents and child. However, this is crucial at this age for language acquisition. In addition, television adds background sound which, when superimposed on family discussions, will make it difficult for the child to decipher sounds and limit verbal understanding and expression.. There is therefore no point in turning on the TV at this time, except to interfere with the exchanges and distract the child’s attention.

How to develop your child’s language?

To help the child develop his language, here are some tips:

  • From birth, the child seeks to communicate, through looks, then he will babble after a few months. We therefore talk to him at every opportunity, we listen to him and we try to understand what he says;
  • The child’s language is constantly developing, so it must be stimulated, at all ages, through constructive exchanges;
  • Be careful not to be too rigid in learning, wanting him to pronounce all the words perfectly;
  • We can try to understand what he meant, by putting forward hypotheses, during the exchanges;
  • Finally, it is important to read stories to him regularly, in order to enrich his vocabulary and why not, also pass on to him a taste for reading later.