New study on screen time finds 'frightening' effects on children

The impacts of screen time's dominance in the lives of babies and toddlers is becoming more clear with worrying results from one study that found a strong association with their development.

The research found 1- and 2-year-olds that have more screen time see lower brain development and motor skills at age 2 and 3 years old.

Donna Dotson, who works as a senior physical therapist at Children's Hospital of Michigan called the effects "really frightening."

"Just like dessert, you don't really give dessert to babies, and we know that a little bit once in a while can be okay," she said, "but if we have a lot of it every day, it's going to cause problems."

In addition to lower brain development, the study, which is based on 60,000 children out of Japan, also found more screen time at age 2 was connected to lower motor skills and personal social skills at age 3.

And Dotson says that's probably understating the outcomes.

"The effects are multiplied now because this study didn’t look at the handheld devices like smartphones and tablets," she said.

There are many reasons for the effects, but most have to do with what kids would have done instead of looking at screens that's leading to less development. Children aren't exploring their surroundings as often. 

They also aren't interacting with each other as frequently. There are also negative impacts on eyes and posture. It's something that early childcare centers are seeing in real time.

"We’ve definitely seen the negative impacts, typically in our ASQs those are our screenings that we use two to three times a year," said Samantha Ford at Green Garden Child Development Centers. "We've definitely seen a decrease in communication and fine motor skills as kids are watching screens a lot more than they used to."

Some of the best things that parents can do is to carve out more time for activities that don't include any screen time.