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The dangers of electronic devices for young children

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What does the American Academy of Pediatrics say?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two not use phones, televisions, tablets or other electronic devices. This measure aims to prevent the harmful effects that time in front of the screen or screen time can have on their sensory abilities.

What are the harmful effects of electronic devices?

Several studies have shown that the excessive use of new technologies can cause problems in children, such as: less physical activity, more sedentary lifestyles, delayed communication development or difficulty falling asleep.

In addition, a recent study published by the journal JAMA Pediatrics warns that the abusive use of mobile phones can cause atypical behaviors in children. These behaviors may be related to sensory disorders such as autism or hyperactivity.

How was the study done?

The study was carried out by Drexel University and analyzed 1,471 children aged 12, 18 and 24 months. The children were assessed 33 months later, using the Infant/Toddler Sensory Profile (ITSP). This profile is a tool that allows you to measure how children process visual, auditory or olfactory information.

What are the results of the study?

The results show a relationship between children’s age and their sensory processing. The 12-month-olds who spent more time in front of the screen had a decline in their sensory skills at 33 months. This increased their likelihood of engaging in atypical behaviors by 105%.

18-month-olds who spent an hour a day in front of the screen had a reduction in their sensory abilities by 23%. 24-month-olds who added an extra hour of screen time a day increased their chances of having atypical behaviors by 20%.

What is sensory processing?

Sensory processing is the ability to use the information the body receives from the five senses. When any of these capacities is affected, it can be manifested through behavior, but also in the sensory systems of integration.

Children with sensory issues may experience too much or too little sensory stimulation. For example, children with autism or hyperactivity may have atypical sensory behaviors.

There are three sensory integration systems: vestibular, proprioceptive and interoceptive. The vestibular is what provides balance and orientation to the head. Proprioceptive is what orients the body’s muscles, and provides information about position and movement. The interoceptive is what dictates information to the body’s internal organs, such as the stomach.

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