S1E125: Why babies and toddlers do not need screen time

  • 3 Jul 2024

Excessive screen time can lead to speech delays, autism-like symptoms in children.

Synopsis: Every first Wednesday of the month, The Straits Times helps you make sense of health matters that affect you.

My 18-month-old loves viewing videos on my phone; why is he not talking?

Screen time can help children develop social, creative, communication and other skills, but very young children, especially those below 18 months of age, are not ready for it. They should not be getting any screen time, unless it is for video chatting. 

Find out how excessive screen time can affect them, and how too much time spent on digital devices can lead to a myriad of issues in children above 18 months of age. For instance, children here are getting myopia from a younger age, from spending too much time indoors on near work and too little time outdoors in the daylight. 

In this episode, ST senior health correspondent Joyce Teo speaks with her two guest experts - Dr Yvonne Ling, an eye surgeon specialising in adult squints and paediatric ophthalmology, from the Singapore National Eye Centre and Dr Christelle Tan, a consultant at the Department of Child Development at KK Womens’ and Children’s Hospital (KKH) to find out more. Dr Ling also sees young patients with various eye issues, including myopia, at KKH.

Highlights (click/tap above):

2:06 Why is myopia something to watch out for? 

5:18 What is the best sport that children can do to stave off myopia?

8:17 Why is my 18-month-old baby not talking?

10:07 Case of 3-year-boy who spent hours on video games

11:50 Should I be worried about the autism-like symptoms in my child? 

26:16 What parents can do to protect their children from the effects of too much screen time? 

32:24 How to prepare for a myopia check? What parents can do to protect their children from the effects of too much screen time? 

Produced by: Joyce Teo (joyceteo@sph.com.sg) and Eden Soh

Edited by: Eden Soh

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