Preschoolers' Social Cognitive Development in the Age of Screen Time Ubiquity
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Is screen time exposure a double-edged sword for children's social cognitive development among today's children? We conducted a short-term prospective longitudinal study of 57 typically developing children (Mage = 54.7 months, standard deviation = 2.5 months; 27 female) to examine the association between quantity of screen time exposure during the preschool years (Time 1; age 4) and social cognitive outcomes 1 year later (Time 2; age 5), coinciding with the time of formal school entry. We found that, in boys, watch time and gaming time at Time 1 were associated with relatively lower scores on an academic task at Time 2, and Time 1 gaming time was associated with relatively lower theory of mind at Time 2. For girls, Time 1 watch time was associated with relatively higher prosocial behavior at Time 2. We speculate that these contrasting gender findings may be accounted for by the specific gender-targeted programming currently available to young boys and girls.
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