Saturday, April 8, 2023

Eating in front of screens disrupts the speech of children of the appropriate age

The role of eating meals in slow language development in children:

Researchers from the Center for Research in Epidemiology and Statistics (CRESS) found that leaving the TV on permanently during meals contributes to slower language development in children.

Children between the ages of 3 and 6 spend nearly two hours a day in front of a screen. By following more than 1,500 children between the ages of 2 to 5 years for several years, researchers from NSERM and the Center for Research in Epidemiology and Statistics (CRESS) discovered that this time children spend permanently in front of screens, more precisely in front of a television set, which is turned on During family meals, which are the key moments in verbal exchange between adults and children, have an impact on language acquisition.

To measure these times and contexts of screen use, questionnaires were completed by parents of 1,562 children followed at ages 2, 3, and 5½ years. As part of the study, the parents specifically provided information about the frequency with which the TV was turned on while eating. For children's screen time, only time spent in front of the TV, computer and video games was considered.

The researchers, whose study was published in the journal la revue nature, explained that the children's language assessment was carried out through questionnaires that were filled out by parents when the children were two years old, and then by psychologists when they were 3 and 5 and a half years old.


At 2 years of age, children whose television was constantly on while eating had a lower level of language compared to children who were not in front of the station.

At ages 3 and 5½ years, language ratings and verbal IQ scores were higher for children who were “never” exposed to television during family meals, compared to those who were “sometimes” or more often.

Screens, a brain hazard?

A Canadian study conducted, in 2019, on 2,500 two-year-olds confirmed the impact of screens on children's development. Researchers from the University of Calgary showed that children between the ages of 2 and 3 spent between two and three hours a day staring at a screen, and they performed worse on developmental screening tests later in childhood between the ages of 3 and 5. The researchers said communication, motor skills or the ability to solve problems, as well as social skills, can be affected.

All these conclusions are in line with another US study of 11,000 American children, in which preliminary findings indicate that spending more than two hours a day in front of a screen would harm children's memory. After 7 hours a day, they may experience premature thinning of the cerebral cortex, the seat of memory, language, or consciousness.