In this article, we examine the impact of digital screen devices, including television, on cognitive development. Although we know that young infants and toddlers are using touch screen devices, we know little about their comprehension of the content that they encounter on them. In contrast, research suggests that children begin to comprehend child-directed television starting at ∼2 years of age. The cognitive impact of these media depends on the age of the child, the kind of programming (educational programming versus programming produced for adults), the social context of viewing, as well the particular kind of interactive media (eg, computer games). For children <2 years old, television viewing has mostly negative associations, especially for language and executive function. For preschool-aged children, television viewing has been found to have both positive and negative outcomes, and a large body of research suggests that educational television has a positive impact on cognitive development. Beyond the preschool years, children mostly consume entertainment programming, and cognitive outcomes are not well explored in research. The use of computer games as well as educational computer programs can lead to gains in academically relevant content and other cognitive skills. This article concludes by identifying topics and goals for future research and provides recommendations based on current research-based knowledge.
- Accepted April 19, 2017.
- Copyright © 2017 by the American Academy of Pediatrics