Gadgets could hamper normal growth in young kids: Study

It is now quite common for parents to give gadgets to kids to keep them occupied so that they could go about household chores undisturbed. However, research had shown that the practice actually hampered kids' growth in several ways. Another study had warned that allowing kids to spend too much time on smartphones, tablets and other devices might delay speech development in toddlers.

The study involved 894 children between ages six months and two years participating in a practice-based research network in Toronto between 2011 and 2015.

When they were checked up at 18-months, 20 per cent of the children had daily average handheld device use of 28 minutes, according to their parents. Using a screening tool for language delay, researchers found that the more handheld screen time a child's parent reported, the more likely the child would have delays in expressive speech.

For each 30-minute increase in handheld screen time, researchers found a 49 per cent increased risk of expressive speech delay. No apparent link had been found between handheld device screen time and other communication delays, such as social interactions, body language or gestures.

"Handheld devices are everywhere these days," said Dr Catherine Birken, scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Canada, Zee News reported in a report that had IANS inputs. "While new pediatric guidelines suggest limiting screen time for babies and toddlers, we believe that the use of smartphones and tablets with young children has become quite common," said Birken.

"I believe it's the first study to examine mobile media device and communication delay in children," said Birken, CNN reported. "It's the first time that we've sort of shone a light on this potential issue, but I think the results need to be tempered (because) it's really a first look."