Mobile devices may blunt children’s self-regulation

22 May 2020

Children who begin using mobile and screen media devices earlier in life have lower self-regulation skills, those needed to plan, control, and monitor their thoughts, feelings and behaviours, says a study.

Researchers from the University of California, Davis, assessed 56 children aged 32 to 47 months over a two-and-a-half-year period. They analysed the children’s self-regulation skills, as these skills predict later academic success, social functioning, physical and mental health, income and criminality.

Lead author Amanda Lawrence said: ‘Young children are often exposed to substantial amounts of screen media. Even though consumption of moderate amounts of high-quality children’s media has been established to have a positive influence on development, the current findings support limiting children’s use of mobile devices.’

The research, published in JAMA Pediatrics, is the beginning of a long-term longitudinal study of children’s development of self-regulation.