The average American baby now watches nearly 3 hours of TV every day

Babies watching TV.
(Image credit: Isabelle Plasschaert / Alamy Stock Photo)

Children are spending more time than ever in front of a screen, and it doesn't necessarily bode well for their futures.

In 1997, babies and toddlers age 0-2 got an average of 1.32 hours of screen time each day, Axios reports via a Monday report from JAMA Pediatrics. By 2014, that number had doubled to three hours per day, and more of that time is spent in front of the TV than ever before.

Using data from a previous child development study, JAMA researchers found that children age 2 and under spent 43 percent of their screen time in front of a TV in 1997. The rest of the time was spent with video games and computers, the study showed. By 2014, the definition of screen time expanded to include cell phones and tablets, CNN notes. Still, TV had still skyrocketed to take up 86 percent of the youngest age bracket's screen exposure, or more than 2 and half hours each day. Screen time for kids age 3-5 didn't increase much overall, but the portion of time spent watching TV grew from 48 to 78 percent.

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The data stops in 2014 because that's when the "real acceleration of decline in kids TV started," a children's tech CEO tells Axios. "Prolonged screen time can increase risks of obesity in children and can be linked to poorer performance on developmental screening tests," Axios also notes via past research. Yet one pediatrician wants to ensure different kids of devices and content are "thought of differently," she tells CNN. For example, learning devices aren't the same as cartoons on TV. Read more about the study at CNN.

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Kathryn Krawczyk

Kathryn is a graduate of Syracuse University, with degrees in magazine journalism and information technology, along with hours to earn another degree after working at SU's independent paper The Daily Orange. She's currently recovering from a horse addiction while living in New York City, and likes to share her extremely dry sense of humor on Twitter.