By Kinza Asghar Khan, PharmD

Up-Dated at 06-Feb-2024

In today’s digital age, screens have become an integral part of our lives, with even the tiniest of babies often captivated by their glow. However, recent research highlights concerning effects of excessive screen time on baby development.

Leading organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF caution against the potential consequences, emphasizing the importance of real connections over screen usage. 

Human interaction lays the foundation for healthy social, emotional, and cognitive development in babies. Face-to-face interactions with parents, caregivers, and peers provide crucial elements like warmth, eye contact, touch, and emotional responsiveness.

These interactions foster bonding, communication skills, empathy, and the development of secure attachments. Let’s explore some key ways screens can impact babies and their healthy development.

Reduced attention span

Excessive screen time has been linked to a decrease in attention span and the ability to sustain focus in babies. The rapid-paced, constantly changing stimuli on screens can overload their developing brains and impair their capacity to engage in sustained meaningful activities. This may have long-term implications on their ability to concentrate and learn as they grow.

Impaired impulse control

Screens can hinder the development of self-regulation and impulse control in babies. The instant gratification provided by screen-based media, where actions and responses are immediate, can make it challenging for babies to develop patience and delayed gratification. This can impact their ability to manage impulses and exhibit self-control in various situations.

Lack of empathy

Interacting with screens may limit opportunities for babies to develop empathy, a vital social skill. Human interaction offers rich emotional cues and non-verbal communication that fosters empathy.

In contrast, screen-based interactions lack the nuanced emotional expressions and real-time responsiveness that help babies understand and connect with others’ feelings. This can impede the development of empathy and emotional intelligence.

Disrupted sleep patterns

Excessive screen time, especially before bedtime, can disrupt babies’ sleep patterns. The blue light emitted by screens can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone essential for sleep regulation.

Babies who are exposed to screens close to bedtime may experience difficulties falling asleep or disrupted sleep, which can impact their overall well-being and cognitive development.

Language and communication challenges

Excessive screen time may hinder the development of language and communication skills in babies. Real-world interactions provide opportunities for meaningful conversations, vocabulary expansion, and language acquisition.

Overreliance on screens can limit these language-rich experiences, potentially affecting language development and communication abilities.

Limited physical activity

Excessive screen time can reduce opportunities for babies to engage in physical activity, hindering their gross motor skill development.

Screen use often involves sedentary behaviors and can discourage active exploration and movement which is crucial for developing coordination, balance, and overall physical health.


Excessive screen time can have significant implications for baby development. It can reduce attention span, impair impulse control, hinder empathy development, disrupt sleep patterns, affect language and communication skills, and limit physical activity.

To promote healthy development, it is essential for parents and caregivers to prioritize real connections, limit screen time, and provide a balanced, enriched environment that fosters growth and well-being.

By striking a balance and fostering meaningful interactions, we can support babies in reaching their full potential and lay the foundation for a healthy and thriving future.

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