Screen Time and Cognitive Development

While there is considerable work linking traditional screen media (TV viewing) to developmental outcomes, only limited research has examined the potential links between touchscreen devices (e.g. tablets, smartphones etc.) and cognitive development. Touchscreen technologies provide an intuitive and attractive source of stimulation for toddlers, enabling use when the motor system is still relatively immature. Our research aims to establish how content and context of use may influence children’s cognitive development from infancy to preschool.

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"There is currently conflicting and unclear guidance around the impact of tablets and touchscreens use by our very youngest on their learning and development... This project engages directly with parents and practitioners to gather their views – giving us a much greater understanding of this important area as a result."

- Neil Leitch, Early Years Alliance Chief Executive (2018)

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Project

Leverhulme Trust Logo
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The TABLET Project investigates the longitudinal associations between early touchscreen use across the first 3 years of life and a range of cognitive, brain and social developmental outcomes. Families around the UK participated via a series of online questionnaires or by visiting the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development (the ‘BabyLab’) when their children were 12 months, 18 months and 3.5 years old.

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Public Engagement

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The Toddlers and Touchscreens Public Engagement project aimed to establish a dialogue with parents and early-years practitioners about the latest scientific evidence and guidelines, and learn about their thoughts, feelings and behaviours around touchscreen use. We ran a series of focus groups, and family activities, including science festivals and a science show.

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