1Aiman Tohid, MD, MPH, 2Sundas Saboor, MD, 3Fauzia Arain, MD, 4Muhammad Youshay Jawad, MD, 5Muhammad Waqar Azeem, MD, DFAACAP, DFAPA

1University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA; 2Khyber Medical College, Peshawar, Pakistan; 3Bronx Lebanon Hospital, Bronx, United States; 4King Edward Medical University, Lahore, Pakistan; 5Sidra Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, Doha, Qatar

Background:

It has been found that increased screen time and internet use have a negative impact on normal childhood development3. There are several similarities between substance use disorders, pathological gambling and internet addiction disorder1. Excessive screen use causes changes in frontopolar and medial prefrontal regions of the brain, which in turn results in developmental delays3. Cognitive decline and language/speech delays are associated with psychopathology and result in poor academic performance5. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the language and speech delays in children due to excessive internet use.

Material(s) and Method(s):

Databases PsycINFO, ResearchGate, PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase and Cochrane Library were searched. We searched 40 articles and 5 were included in this review. The pros and cons of screen time on children’s development were discussed in details1-3. Literature review of 30 articles assessing analytical aspects of smartphone use by children4. Meta-analysis of 42 studies evaluated  the association between screen use and children’s language skills5.

Result(s):

Increased internet use causes behavioural issues, limited cognitive flexibility, and decreased emotional intelligence in children1. Excessive screen use causes reduced ability to recognize emotions and troublesome behaviours4. Increased use of the internet causes word recognition issues and language problems1. Intensified internet use and screen use ( TV and smartphone) result in decreased vocabulary in children3. Reduced reading time and increased internet usage have been associated with delays in executive functioning and language development5. Early word learning is negatively impacted by digital products2.

Conclusion(s):

Imprudent internet/screen use is associated with delayed language and cognitive skills in children. Healthy behaviors including, no screen usage during meals, increased physical activity and social play should be prescribed by physicians. Parents should be discouraged from permitting children to use the internet/screen before bedtime and should be advised to set limitations.