Why screen time inhibits toddler development

Posted on: 02/14/19 10:00 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Where’s Nathan?

I just changed his diaper and plopped him in front of the TV… again.

Any theories why Nathan doesn’t walk yet?

It’s probably not a surprise to you to hear that if we plop our toddlers down in front of a screen it hurts their development. We’ve heard the arguments before. Too much screen time has negative effects all around. And some experts even push back and try to contest it.

But according to a new study from the University of Calgary, the results are pretty clear about the effects of screen time on young kids.

“Greater screen time at 24 months was associated with poorer performance on developmental screening tests at 36 months, and similarly, greater screen time at 36 months was associated with lower scores on developmental screening tests at 60 months.”

The element I find intriguing is why.


“A lot of the positive stimulation that helps kids with their physical and cognitive development comes from interactions with caregivers.”

There it is once again—the indisputable fact. Kids need face-to-face interactions with Mom and Dad.

This wasn’t the only reason why. Experts also noticed that inactive kids tended to not develop motor skills or hand-eye coordination (more reasons to discourage too much screen time). But the big reason kids were missing key developmental skills was because they missed out on crucial interaction with parents.

Do we really need an expert to tell us that our kids need our love and attention?

It’s the one element that everyone always seems to agree on, regardless of the study. Experts argue about the effects of entertainment media until they’re blue in the face (although I’ve never actually seen someone turn blue when arguing about entertainment media), but they’ll always all agree on this one conclusion. Interaction with Mom and Dad is crucial.

Maybe your kids aren’t toddlers anymore. Maybe they’re tweens or teens. Then quantity time matters even more.

Have you connected with your kids face to face this week?