Review | Volume 16 Number 2: 0 | 04 Jun 2021

Screen-based media and young children: Review and recommendations


Early childhood development is influenced by a child’s environmental experiences. The qualities of surrounding in which a child lives, grows up and learns are key for attaining their milestones. Increased availability of screen-based media in families leads to excessive screen time among young children, resulting in high chances of displacing parent–child interaction which is fundamental in a thriving child’s process of learning and development.
Numerous publications have investigated the potential health impacts of early exposure and excessive usage of screen-based media among children, with literature suggesting links between excessive screen time and behavioural difficulties, developmental delay and increased risk of obesity, among other issues. Existing guidelines from international bodies call for limiting screen time to an hour per day for children aged two to five years old and urge that children below the age of two should not be exposed to any screen time.
To spark awareness among parents and caregivers concerning the potential health impacts of screen-based media usage among young children, child media habits are recommended to be incorporated as part of toddlers’ developmental assessment in health clinics. A guideline for mindful usage of screen-based media focusing on children below the age of five tailored to a Malaysian context ought to be developed based on current evidence from research, theory and practice. A collaborative effort between concerned agencies is essential to ensuring a developmentally stimulating environment in which young children may grow up.