Linking Kids’ Screen Time to Sensory Processing Challenges

According to a new study, exposing babies and toddlers to TV and other digital media can make them have dysfunction in “sensory processing.” This article examines this claim on the adverse effects of digital media on your child’s health.

How Does Atypical Sensory Processing Affect Children?

Children with “atypical sensory processing” are commonly hypersensitive to the sound, touch, taste, or look of stimuli in their environment. For instance, kids might try avoiding the feel of certain clothing, the taste of specific food, or necessary activities such as getting their hair washed.

Conversely, they might seek specific sensations, such as staring at bright lights or twirling in place. Sensory processing issues are highly associated with other psychiatric conditions, like autism or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). According to researchers at Drexel University in West Reading, approximately 60% of children with ADHD and 70% of kids with autism have issues with sensory processing.

How Was The Study Conducted?

The study’s authors examined data on nearly 1,500 young children monitored from 2011 to 2023. According to the study, those exposed to TVs and DVDs in the first three years of their lives had a higher chance of developing atypical sensory processing symptoms.

Unfortunately, the study failed to prove cause-and-effect. However, the research theorizes that kids’ screen time could limit meaningful play and social interactions, which could significantly affect the development of typical sensory processing and overall level of daily function.

What Are The Effects of Atypical Sensory Processing?

Atypical sensory processing can severely disrupt and affect children’s quality of life and development. Researchers said that kids with sensory sensitivity and sensation avoidance could be so affected by their environment that they have greater difficulty learning from those around them.

They also said caregivers are negatively affected as a child’s sensory processing issues affect family members’ participation in work and leisure activities.

How To Prevent Atypical Sensory Processing?

Researchers recommend that parents control the amount of time babies and toddlers spend staring at screens. They also suggest that parent training and education are essential to minimizing or avoiding screen time in children younger than 2 years.

The study’s authors also say that parents should follow the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations to avoid screen viewing in children younger than 18 to 24 months.


A recent study has shown that exposing kids to extended screen time can result in atypical sensory processing. However, this can be avoided by controlling your kids’ screen time and keeping under 18 to 24 months away from TVs.