Even an hour of screen time can affect mental health of 2-year-olds: study

Children and adolescents may have less curiosity, lower self-control & emotional stability, shows a study that surveyed more than 40,000 children aged 2-17 

By DTE Staff
Published: Monday 05 November 2018

Although it is known that half of mental health problems develop by adolescence, a new study says that the damage can start as early as as the age of two.

Published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports, scientists analysed data of more than 40,000 children aged two to 17 years in the US, given by parents for a 2016 nationwide health survey. The study is important as 20 per cent of the world’s population are adolescents. Nearly, 243 million adolescents live in India.

The study says that after just one hour of screen time, children and adolescents may have less curiosity, lower self-control and lower emotional stability. This can lead to an increased risk of anxiety and depression. Those aged 14 to 17 are more at risk for such adverse effects, but correlations exist in younger children and toddlers as well. Nursery school children, who used screens frequently, were twice as likely to lose their temper, said the study.

More screen time corresponded with less curiosity in learning things. While only nine per cent of those 11 to 13 years, who spent an hour a day on screens, were not curious in learning new things, this figure was 22.6 per cent for those whose screen time was seven hours a day or more. While the US-based National Institute of Health claims that young people spend an average of five to seven hours on screens, in India there is a lack of uniform data on the usage of smart phones by adolescents and toddlers.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, in India, an average person checks their phones every 6.30 min in a 16- hour waking cycle. A recent Indian survey revealed that 95 per cent of kids live in homes with a mobile phone while 73 per cent of Indian kids are mobile phone users, said the IJPM study. Of these, 70 per cent fall under the age group of 7-10 years while 76 per cent are in the age group of 11-14 years. 

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