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Child psychologist's tips on how to manage pre-schoolers potentially harmful screen time

Pre-schoolers exposed to long periods of screen time are seven times more likely to develop or suffer from ADHD than those who have less than 30 minutes of screen time a day, a study shows.

Speaking to TVNZ1's Breakfast today child psychologist Dr Emma Woods said indications of behavioural problems with pre-schoolers are often a combination of restlessness, inattention, not being able to push through the threshold of boredom and essentially wanting to spend a lot of time in front of electronic screens.

"We’re seeing quite a shift in behaviour in children over the last few years, our brains haven't evolved to grow alongside screens," she says.

"Our brains need exposure to things like connection, outdoor play, imagination, being bored, being in nature, and when we’re spending time on a screen, we’re not getting that."

Dr Woods says exposure to more than the appropriate amount of screen time can have a negative effect on children's ability to focus and sustain attention for long periods.

By allowing children to spend too much time in front of screens, "we're not putting our children in a space where they're developing the skills they need to learn the skills to focus," Dr Woods says.

Dr Woods suggests some tips on how parents can manage youngsters' screen time including not having screen time during dinner and watching shows instead of on their own on devices. She urged parents to set boundaries in place.

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Dr Emma Woods gives some tips after a study has found a link between ADHD long periods of looking at screens. Source: Breakfast