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Child Development And Screen Time: What’s The Link?

Child development and screen time are something we talk about a lot in modern society. In days gone by, we used to worry that our kids were watching too much TV, but those worries have been greatly amplified in the digital world.

Mobile devices play a central part in how we live our lives, so it’s natural that children are going to be exposed to them, but how can this affect their development?


A Complicated Issue

A lot is said about the negative impact of screen time on a child’s development. It’s generally agreed that screen time for children under the age of two is detrimental, but the data becomes a bit more blurry after this.

Of course, we don’t want children spending all their time in front of a screen, but at the same time, there are certainly digital skills they need to learn to thrive in the modern world. This means there is a balance to be struck, and this relates to the quality of screen time just as much as the quantity of screen time.

Lots of research continues to be carried out on this subject, so what do the experts say?


There Can Be Too Much Screen Time

For parents and educators, making sure children get the right amount of screen time can be difficult. Studies have found that too much “low quality” screen time can lead to issues like obesity, behavioral problems, lack of social skills, and more.

This is why programs such as Merrimack College’s M.Ed. Program detail appropriate screen time and identify positive learning opportunities through digital devices. These guidelines help parents set good rules for screen time that can aid their children’s development.

With these tips and a little bit of oversight, parents can help ensure screen time has a positive impact on their child’s development.


Quality is the Key

Some screen time can be very beneficial for children’s development. It really depends on the content.

Too much low-quality screen time will have a negative impact, but the right educational content can be beneficial. Again, this is a tricky balance to strike, and it takes some oversight, but it can make a big difference to how children experience screen time.

While the Mayo Clinic observes that “unstructured playtime is more valuable for a young child’s developing brain than is electronic media,” there can still be many positives to the right screen time.



Mobile devices have changed our lives immeasurably in a short period of time. Not only has this had a big impact on adults, but it also has consequences for child development.

There can be positives to screen time for children, but it’s a complicated subject and one that needs monitoring. When it comes to screen time and child development, the key thing is quality. The right screen time can be beneficial in moderation, but low-quality screen time can have negative effects on child development and lead to some serious problems for the future.

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