Digital Screen Time: The Effects on Social and Emotional Development of Four and Five-Year- Old Children

Scairpon, Denise A.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Centenary University
The study sought to determine the duration of screen time usage among four and five-year-old children and its effect on the social and emotional development and sleep reported by caregivers utilizing the data found at The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Additionally, the research examined associations between screen time and psychological well-being measured in four and five-year-old children (including self-control, distractibility, and sleep disturbances) among a large population study of caregivers’ responses collected in 2017 by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. For this research, 2,145 caregiver participants of children ages four and five in the U.S. who completed the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) were used. The study employed a cross-sectional study design with bivariate statistical tests to understand screen time’s role on 10 survey questions categorized under self-control, distractibility, and sleep. The study found that children who spent more time on their digital devices were lower in social and emotional well-being than low technology users. High users of digital devices were significantly more likely to display decreased self-control and were more distractible. These children had lower task persistence, difficulty following directions, and sitting still. Higher users of digital devices sleep less and do not have consistent bedtime routines. High users of digital devices may suffer from irreversible damage to their developing brains and limit one’s socio-emotional abilities for school success and beyond.