In the fall of 2023, the Swedish Pediatric Association issued new recommendations regarding digital media and screen time for children aged 0-5 years. What does the research actually say, is it dangerous for children to use screens or not?
Screens of various kinds are now a major part of people's daily lives. Everything from TVs, computer screens, tablets and smartphones are widely used both for entertainment and for several practical uses in everyday life. Despite these many advantages, there are also some disadvantages when it comes to the use of screens. This is especially true for our youngest children.
Following regular surveys by the Swedish Media Council, it has been found that infants are increasingly exposed to screens. However, young children's brains cannot take advantage of the content shown on the screen because they have not yet matured sufficiently, and research shows that development can be negatively affected by early use of screens. The recommendations are therefore that the youngest children should should not use screens at all.
How are young children affected by screens?
Children's development is fostered by interaction with other people, and the secure relationship with parents allows children to explore and understand the world around them better. Everything from language development, learning, memory and impulse control is enhanced by social interaction with other people - and the opposite when it comes to early screen use.
What exactly are those recommendations?
For children between 0-2, no use of digital screens is recommended. A maximum of one hour a day is recommended for children up to 5 years of age. The aim is to prevent the development of unhealthy habits associated with screens of all kinds and it is important to provide children with space for health-promoting activities such as movement, play and interaction with other people.
What is the impact of parents' use of screens?
Your screen time affects the child and children want to do what their parents do. Adult involvement, especially parental involvement, is an important part of child development and research really emphasizes the importance of parents as role models when it comes to screen time. One consequence of parental use of social media in front of the child is that it can prevent social contact, which in turn can create a downward spiral of negative behaviors such as the need to draw the parent's attention away from the screen.
Switching screen time and activity, indoors and out
Experiencing things and events should be enjoyable and fun! It is therefore good to create a balance between activities and screen time in everyday life. If you have more questions and concerns about screens and screen time, you can contact the BVC or take advantage of the information from Swedish Association of Pediatricians.