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According to a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics, if your children are spending a lot of time watching the TV, computer, or phone, you should be worried. According to research from Japan, more screen time at two years may be related to poor communication and living skills at four years. However, when kids play outdoors, these negative effects of screen time might be minimized. 

Research shows excessive screen time can affect neurodevelopment

The research evaluated 885 children between 18 months and four years. Researchers considered the relationship between average daily screen time, neurodevelopmental outcomes, and the amount of outdoor play at two years. The neurodevelopmental outcomes considered included communication, socialization, and daily living scores as per the Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scale-II at four years.

Lead study author and Osaka University’s Kenji J. Tsuchiya said that although daily living and communication were worse in four-year-old kids exposed to more screen time at two years, outdoor play time affected the neurodevelopmental outcomes differently. However, Kenji explained that the researchers didn’t establish that outdoor play altered negative screen time impacts on communication but affected daily living. 

Outside play can reduce the harmful impacts of screen time 

In particular, outside play was found to mitigate over a fifth of the harmful impacts of screen exposure on daily functioning, suggesting that increasing the amount of time spent outside might virtually halve those effects. The study additionally found that socializing was enhanced in 4-year-olds who’d already spent more time playing outdoors at two years and eight months, even though it was unrelated to screen time.

Senior study author Tomoko Nishimura said that when the findings are considered together, they indicate that screen time optimization in kids is crucial for neurodevelopment. Also, researchers discovered that even if tv time is often high, allowing more outside playtime may assist in keeping youngsters healthier and developing normally. However, time on screen is additionally not associated with social outcomes. Because it is difficult to avoid digital devices in kids, more research on how to find a balance is needed.