Just Two Hours Of Screen Time A Day Can Make Toddlers 'More Likely To Develop ADHD', Study Reveals
ADHD is a condition which affects people's ability to concentrate, exercise self-control, and remain still. Its exact causes are still relatively unclear, however, it is often said to be brought about as a result of a person's particular genetics or a chemical imbalance in their brain.
However, the findings of one particular study have lent more weight to the idea that it is actually a matter of nurture over nature.
According to this recent study, toddlers who spend two hours or more a day staring at screens could be more vulnerable to developing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) than those who don't.
The habits and behavioural tendencies of more than 2,400 families were scrutinized by researchers at the University of Alberta who found that very young children who use smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets for just two hours a day were likely to experience a stunt in their development.
Apparently, prolonged use of these gadgets has a "significant impact" on their brains and could lead to them developing behavioural issues.
The scientists who led the study are now warning parents to reduce the amount of exposure to these potentially harmful gadgets that their children have.
One of the authors of the study further noted that the detrimental impact that these electrical items have might also be down to the fact they detract children from crucial activities such as sleep and exercise.
"Our data suggests that more screen-time leads to less sleep-time," Dr Mandhane told MailOnline. "Developing a regular sleep routine, consistent wake and bedtimes that limit screen-time prior to bed is also an important part of growth, development, and behaviour."
"In another analysis, we found that children who watched more than 2 hours of screen time per day were almost 65 per cent less likely to sleep 10 hours per day. So more screen time equals less sleep time."
According to Dr Tamana, one of the study's other researchers, there is a direct correlation between engaging in organized sports and a lesser likelihood of exhibiting behavioural problems.
"A lot of the things that you do through organized activities are really important for young kids early on," she adds. "I think in lieu of screen time, it would be beneficial for parents to increase opportunities for other structured activities instead."
"While the researchers suggested 'less is more', they didn't recommend cutting it out completely."
It is believed by the leaders of the study that 30 minute or less would be a much more suitable amount of time for toddlers to be exposed to smartphones and other gadgets.
According to the findings, three-year-olds spend an hour-and-a-half, on average, looking at screens every day. In five-year-olds, this stat fell slightly to 1.4 hours.
However, other experts in the field noted that the study had "critical shortcomings" and had in no way corroborated this theory that excessive time in front of a screen leads to bad behaviour in children.
"There is no baseline data on children’s behaviour so it is possible that children who are predisposed to behavioural problems are also predisposed to higher levels of screen-time," argues Professor Andrew Przybylski, director of research at Oxford University's Internet Institute.
"The paper does not contextualize this properly. The authors go well beyond their results in providing advice for physicians and educators. The correlations are very small and inconsistent."
"It is mildly shocking the authors would promote limiting screen-time on the basis of these findings given the evidence in the paper suggests nearly every other factor analyzed was a much stronger predictor."