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How gadgets affect children: a new study by Russian scientists


"Russian children aged 5-6 years spend an average of 20 to 40 hours a week with gadgets," said Ekaterina Rybakova, founder of the University of Childhood Foundation, co-founder of the Rybakov Foundation. - This was found out by the staff of the Faculty of Psychology of the Moscow State University named after M. V. Lomonosov, who studied the influence of screen time on the results of children's development. Surveys were conducted among 1,000 preschoolers and their parents".

The study results were presented at the first international online symposium in memory of the outstanding psychologist L. S. Vygotsky, which was attended by more than 100 speakers and 5,500 listeners from 31 countries.

In the first group, the emotional development of children was studied. It turned out that children who spend up to one hour a day with gadgets have significantly higher emotional development than those who spend more than one hour a day on it. Also, the latter has a more pronounced general anxiety. But at the same time, they are better at recognizing certain emotions by facial expression because they were good at choosing photos that depicted children in a particular emotional state.

Another group of children underwent phonemic hearing assessment twice, with a break of one calendar year. In the short-term effect, passive screen time (watching videos, cartoons) negatively affects the child's ability to process verbal information. And active screen time (games, educational apps, etc.) does not pose a significant threat to the development of phonemic hearing. In the long-term effect, the concerns were not confirmed. All the children involved in the study matched the characteristics of their age.

The study also analyzed groups of children who use gadgets every day, every other day, on weekends, and once a week. The latter has higher indicators according to methods that evaluate regulatory functions.

The level of development of regulatory functions was also higher for children who use gadgets, not for entertainment, but other purposes – listening to music, drawing, orientation in time and space (alarm clock, navigator, stopwatch).

"As a mother of four children, I believe that the main parameter is what content the children interact with. It is from it that the child learns cultural values and norms of behavior. Therefore, the role of an adult in the interaction of a child with a gadget is fundamentally important – it is an adult who helps to choose the right mobile applications, games, or cartoons, the content that will be interesting and developing for the child. Thus, gadgets will help an adult create a zone of rapid development for a child, which was mentioned by the outstanding scientist Lev Vygotsky", – says Ekaterina Rybakova.