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JIAAP July 2022
Early Gadget Exposure among Young Children and its Association with Cognitive and Socio-Emotional Development
Sandhya Shivakumar and S Varadharajan
The use and application of technology by everyone in today’s scenario has resulted in exposure to screen time at a very early age among children. It includes gadgets like mobile phones, laptop, television, tablets and so on which are popular among children as in adults. The aim of the present study is to investigate the sociodemographic characteristics of parents as well as children’s screen-use factors and its association with cognitive and socio-emotional development. Data from a sample of 33 children between 6 months to 5 years of age and their parents reporting to a tertiary health centre in Chennai was collected using a socio-demographic data sheet and Developmental Assessment of Young Children (DAYC-II) was administered. Chi-square test was used to examine the association between parental, screen time and use factors and the level of cognitive and social-emotional development. Majority of the children in the study were exposed to screen time below 2 years of age, had access to two or more types of gadgets at home and with a screen use time between 1-3 hours, using gadgets. Primary reasons for gadget use were reported by parents to be controlling the temper tantrums, to occupy the children when parents are busy as well as during meal times. Results indicated mother’s level of education was significantly associated with cognitive development of young children; and children’s speech and language development was significantly associated with socio-emotional development. It can be concluded that these findings have important implications to take necessary steps towards regulating screen use as well as to abide by the international guidelines on screen use for children under 5 years of age. Further studies are required to explore this area as there is a dearth of studies in the Indian context.