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Young children are better off playing outside than using educational tablet apps
2 dec. 2015
Electronic devices aimed at boosting the brain power of young children could be doing more harm than good, researchers at the University of Alberta have found.
Most studies into the impact of watching TV or using electronic toys and apps have determined time spent in front of screens doesn’t help brain development of pre-schoolers and might hurt it, physical education and recreation assistant professor Valerie Carson said Wednesday.
On the other hand, the vast majority of studies show physical activity helps youngsters develop in such areas as memory, the ability to regulate emotions, and language, Carson said.
“A lot of parents use the screens because they think it will help (kids) prepare better for school. The research isn’t matching up with the marketing that’s out there,” she said.
“It’s important to remember that our body is connected to our brain. When we’re active and we’re moving, that feeds our brain. Physical activity has so many benefits.”
National guidelines suggest children shouldn’t use screen devices at all in their first two years, and no more than an hour a day for the next two years, Carson said.
“Those first two years are when the brain is really growing and developing, and it’s seen having the most impact.”
If kids are going to be sedentary, it’s better to read with someone than play an online game, she said.
“When children are in front of a screen, they tend to interact less with their caregivers. Oftentimes it’s used more passively. Parents might be doing it so they can cook dinner.”
Kids under five should be on their feet at least three hours a day, including one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise, Carson said.
But only 15 per cent of youngsters aged three and four meet this goal. They don’t appear to be running around with their friends or exploring the outdoors as much as previous generations.
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