Prolonged touch screen device usage is associated with emotional and behavioral problems, but not language delay, in toddlers

Han Pin Lin, Kuan Lin Chen, Willy Chou, Kuo Shu Yuan, Shih Yin Yen, Yu Shao Chen, Julie Chi Chow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Touch screen devices are now ubiquitous, and their usage by young children is increasing. However, the effects of these devices on young children are still unknown. Therefore, this study aimed to address the associations of touch screen device exposure with symptomatic emotional and behavioral problems and language development in children between the ages of 18 and 36 months. Method: A total of 161 primary caregivers of children between the ages of 18 and 36 months were recruited from the pediatric ward and outpatient clinic at a medical center in southern Taiwan. All caregivers were asked to fill out the Child Behavior Checklist for Ages 1½–5 (CBCL 1½–5) and a questionnaire on basic personal information and touch screen device usage, and they were also interviewed with the Communication and Language Screening Test for Birth to Three Chinese-Speaking Infant-Toddlers (CLST). Independent t-test and one-way ANOVA were used to examine the differences among the categories in the demographic variables and to characterize the touch screen device usage behaviors. Pearson's correlation was used to analyze the relationship between language delay and the extent of touch screen device exposure. After primary univariate analysis, we used multiple regression models to examine the relationships among the effects of touch screen device usage behaviors on children's emotional and behavioral problems and language development. Result: The children's mean age was 25.63 months (SD = 5.35). Children who spent more time on touch screen devices were more likely to have emotional problems (β = .219, p < .010, 95 % CI: .279–1.518), anxious/depressive symptoms (β = .206, p < .050, 95 % CI: .170–1.244), somatic complaints (β = .291, p < .001, 95% CI: .455–1.462), social withdrawal symptoms (β = .194, p < .050, 95 % CI: 0.133–1.150), attention problems (β = .300, p < .001, 95 % CI: .432–1.267), and aggressive behaviors (β = .247, p < .010, 95 % CI: .967–3.983). The effects were not noted on language development (β = −.136, p < .100, 95 % CI: −2.595–.147). Conclusion: Young children who spent more time on touch screen devices were more likely to have emotional problems, anxious/depressive symptoms, somatic complaints, social withdrawal symptoms, attention problems, and aggressive behaviors, but not language delay.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101424
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Volume58
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Feb

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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