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Lisa Black

Children at age 2 who used electronic devices spent less time reading print books by age 3, according to a study that showed a relationship between screen use and reading activities during the preschool years. The study, “Longitudinal Associations between Screen Use and Reading in Preschool Children,” published in the July 2021 Pediatrics (published online May 24) used data provided by 2,440 Canadian mothers when children were 2, 3, and 5 years of age. Mothers reported the range of time their child spent using electronic devices, including watching television programs; movies, videos, or stories; or using a computer, gaming system, or other screen-based device, on a typical day. Mothers also reported the range of time their child spent in reading activities during these intervals. Researchers found higher durations of screen time at 2 years leads to less time spent reading at 3 years, which in turn leads to greater screen time at 5 years of age. They conclude that families should be encouraged to monitor children’s screen time duration and engage in “device-free” activities to foster early literacy skills.

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