Almost everyone has heard that small children should not have too much screen time.   Suggested screen times have been established, but as long as the time falls within an hour of the suggested guidelines, he or she should not be adversely affected, right?  Well, according to University of Montreal professor Linda Pagani, the opposite is true.  The Science Daily article, “An Extra Hour of TV Beyond Recommendations Diminishes Toddlers’ Kindergarten Chances,” explains the results of a cohort study:  “Every hourly increase in daily television watching at 29 months of age is associated with diminished vocabulary and math skills, classroom engagement, victimization by classmates, and physical prowess at kindergarten.”  In other words, toddlers with too much screen time can lead to poor vocabulary, poor math skills, poor attention in school, bullying, and physical aggression when they reach kindergarten.  (The last three outcomes suggest poor self-regulation skills, which are key to academic success.  See one of our previous posts on Self-Regulation.)

Pagani’s study suggests that every hour beyond the suggested viewing guideline has a significantly negative impact on a child’s readiness for kindergarten.  It also suggests that parents need to be aware of how much screen time their toddlers are getting and to make sure that the toddler’s screen time should be within the American Academy of Pediatrics’ suggested recommendations:

  • Infants – no television
  • Age Two (or more) – 2 hours or less daily

The study considered only the time that toddlers spent watching television at home.  Parents would do well to find out how much daycare providers use watching television as an activity each day.