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MedPage Today: The New One-Eyed Babysitter

By Elizabeth Hlavinka

Toddlers spent nearly 2 hours a day on tablets or smartphones, but few parents accurately estimated how long their children were spending on these devices, researchers reported.

Among 115 parents who estimated how long their children were spending on these devices, 35.7% of the parents underestimated and 34.8% overestimated, guessing a mean 69.7 minutes above or below the actual time spent on these devices, the team wrote online in Pediatrics.

While excessive screen time has been documented and linked to adverse physical and developmental outcomes among young children, most studies examining these associations rely on parental reporting, which, as demonstrated in this study, can be unreliable.

Although this data collection method is "a momentous step forward methodologically," the average home has five internet-connected devices, so these findings likely do not capture the "full breadth of exposure in the child's digital media ecology," commented Libby Matile Milkovich, MD, of Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, and Sheri Madigan, PhD, of the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, in an accompanying editorial.

"Mobile device sampling can accurately reveal trends in a patient's duration and content of media use, which could help a pediatrician identify specific targets for intervention," Milkovich and Madigan wrote, adding that the method removes reporting bias.


Read the full story via MedPage Today.

Learn more about Developmental and Behavioral Health at Children's Mercy