Rising Screen Exposure and its Impact on Croatian Children’s Enrollment in Primary School: Promoting Healthy Brain Development through Balanced Activities and Content

New Study Shows Screens Can Impact Speech Development and Foster Aggressive Behavior in Children

The World Health Organization recommends that children under the age of two should not be exposed to any type of screen at all. However, research conducted by the Child Protection Polyclinic of the City of Zagreb in 2017 showed that eight out of ten small children were in contact with screens. This increase in screen exposure may be contributing to delays in enrolling children in primary school in Croatia, with about 4,000 children receiving a postponement of enrollment this year due to psychophysical immaturity.

Exposure to various sensorimotor stimuli strengthens synapses and builds the brain, but excessive exposure to screens can lead to thinning connections. Brain development is most intense until the age of three, with synapses forming connections between neurons responsible for various functions. Careful selection of shows and cartoons can impact a child’s attention span and language development positively. Children need opportunities for two-way communication and active engagement to develop speech, social skills, and emotional regulation.

Establishing boundaries, providing balanced activities, and modeling healthy screen habits are essential for promoting healthy brain development and social-emotional skills. Furthermore, ensuring that children have opportunities for creative play, physical activity, and social interactions is critical for their overall well-being. It’s not just the quantity of screen time that matters but also the quality of content. Educators recommend limiting screen time for children of different age groups to ensure balanced development of practical skills and outdoor activities.

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