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Early exposure to gadgets delays development: research

March 30, 2023 - 14:10 By Park Jun-hee

Early exposure to screens may negatively affects a child’s social development, research showed Thursday.

A research team led by Kim Sung-koo, a professor at Hallym University’s Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, showed that 95.8 percent of toddlers under the age of 2 who experience developmental delays spent more time using technological gadgets than those who didn't display such delays.

The findings were based on a study between 2013 and 2019 of 197 children, 96 of whom were being treated for developmental disabilities, and 101 of whom were not.

Some 55 percent of the parents who allowed their children with development disabilities to engage and interact with digital technologies were found to have either suffered from depression or other health problems, or they were working couples.

Nearly 27 percent of the parents said they use electronic gadgets as tantrum pacifiers for their child. Other parents also responded that they resort to technical devices to keep their children occupied or entertained.

As a growing number of autism spectrum disorder cases are found to be associated with early childhood exposure to screens and devices, the study advises parents to limit the time their children spend using devices and that they should rather watch educational programs.

“Being exposed to media at a young age hinders creativity as well as (time for) playing and interacting with parents,” said Kim.