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Is screen time affecting my child's development?

As a doctor and a parent, I know the struggle with screen time and kids is real.

Cocomelon is the surest way I can get my kids to stay in one spot and quieten down if needed. At the same time, I try to make a mental note of how much time they are spending on their screens and whether it's past the 1 hour suggested limit by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for pre-school children aged 2-5.

The concern behind this screen time is - Is it affecting my child’s development?

The quick answer is that it may actually affect development in children with higher screen time exposure. Findings in a study with more than 2000 mothers and children in the USA linked high levels of screen time with delayed development.

A Singapore study found that toddlers who spend more than three hours a day looking at a screen are more likely to be less physically active by the time they reach kindergarten-age. The researchers suggest that limiting the exposure of young children to screens (such as TVs, computers and handheld devices) to one hour a day may promote healthier behaviours later in life. This is in line with recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO) to limit screen time to an hour or less per day among two- to five-year-olds.

What can I do about screen time for my kids?

Screen time is going to be increasingly challenging for parents, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The AAP published this statement on March 17 2020: “While limits are still important, under these stressful circumstances, kids' screen media use will likely increase.”

Dr Cheryl Ngo put together some useful tips on how you can optimize screen time for your children, focusing on how you can keep screen use positive and helpful. These include the following: - Use screen time together to engage with your child on what they are watching - Balance screen time with healthy activities offline to help your child play, relax and communicate - Ensure regular breaks from the screen

What should I do if I think my child may have developmental issues?

Child developmental milestones should be evaluated by a doctor at specific age touch points. MOH has introduced standardized recommended Child Developmental Screening (CDS) touch points, which involves screenings that can be typically conducted together with the recommended childhood vaccinations.

From 1st November 2020, all CDS-incurred charges will be completely subsidised by MOH in both polyclinics, as well as CHAS-approved GP private clinics such as our clinic.

These are the recommended touch-points for CDS:

Our recommendation at Intemedical would be arranging the touch-points for CDS at the ages of 2, 4, 6, 12, 30 (2.5 years old) and 48 (4 years old) months of age, in conjunction with the timing of the vaccine due at that time.

Here's how you can book an appointment with us for your child's fully subsidised CDS visit.

Appointment Portal: Kovan Clinic / Potong Pasir Clinic

(click and book with instant confirmation!)

WhatsApp: 8879 9404

(available during clinic opening hours, 8am to 12am)

Mobile: 8879 9404

(messaging preferred)

Landline: +65 3165 9251

(please be aware that the phone might be engaged due to high call volume)


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