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Screen Time for Children Is Detrimental, Says 2014 Study

Updated on July 30, 2016

Today's children might actually be losing the ability to read emotions and pick up on social cues, says this 2014 study.

The study consisted of two groups of sixth graders who attended the same public school: the experimental group, which would be attending a five-day educational nature camp where no screens were allowed, and the control group, which would be attending school and going about everyday activities. The experimental group included fifty-one children from the Spring class, and the control group included fifty-four children from the following school year's Fall class. Both groups of children reported spending an average of four and a half hours a day outside of school using screens.

Both the control and the experimental group were given the same pre-test to begin with. Each child was shown forty-eight photos of people whose faces displayed varying emotions. A photo would show on the screen for two seconds, and then the child would record on a sheet of paper the emotion they thought that person was conveying. The procedure was then repeated with five videos, also of people displaying varying emotions.

After the five-day school week was over, the post-test (which was the same as the pre-test) was administered to the children. Not surprisingly, the children in the experimental group, who spent five days interacting with one another rather than with screens, showed significant improvement in their ability to recognize the emotions each person was displaying. The children from the control group showed very little improvement.

In modern society, it's not unusual for screens to take up the majority of a child's free time. Screen and electronic addiction in children may begin as early as infancy. These habits, as this study and others show, may be more detrimental to our children and their education than it is helpful.

The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) suggests that young children should have their bedrooms as a screen-free zone, and that the TV should be turned off during dinner. They also suggest children and teens should not have more than two hours of screen time every day.

Children two years and younger, says AAP, should have no screen time at all. Children spend the first years of their lives exploring and learning how the world around them functions, and they will benefit greatly if they learn from people rather than from screens.


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