Computers, tablets, televisions, videos games, and smartphones have made screens pervasive. The result is that today's children have much more screen time than little ones had in previous generations. Some occupational therapists believe they are treating issues that derive directly from too much screen time.
Occupational Therapists Raise Concerns About the Effects of Screen Time
Occupational therapists report that in recent years they've seen the alarming impact that increasing screen time has on children. One school occupational therapist pleaded with parents to reduce screen time in their homes. Her concern came from seeing kindergartners with motor delays from swiping devices. That therapist is not alone. Rebecca Doolittle also attributes many of the difficulties with fine motor skills she treats in her occupational therapy practice to excessive screen time. In addition, Doolittle points out time spent on screens is time children should be moving and learning through play.
In the pediatric clinic she owns, occupational therapist Heather Baumgartner is treating more problems with motor skills, postural strength, core strength, and coordination. She's also observed more issues with social skills and eye contact. She believes that the reason her clinic has seen a growth in children with all of these challenges is a direct result of too much screen time.
Early Research Supports Occupational Therapists Anecdotal Evidence
While few scientific studies have been completed on the long-term effects of too much screen time on children, a recent study supports what occupational therapists are seeing. A study published in January 2019 directly connected greater amounts of screen time to poor developmental outcomes. Unlike many previous studies on the effects of screen time, this study observed the effects over the course of several years.
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