Developmental Digest #1 – Screens, Structure And Risky play – Their effects on child development


Welcome to Developmental Digest, Issue #1.

This is going to be a series of posts where I take a look at some interesting things, all to do with parenting and child development, that have caught my eye recently.

I may have come across them during research for another post and considered them not relevant but still insightful or maybe I have just stumbled upon them as I’m catching up on developmental news.

They could be research papers – old and new, news articles or blog posts – anything that I think’s fascinating and worth sharing.

Without further ado, here’s what I’ve found this week:

This Week on Developmental Digest:

Children Who Eat Lunch are Found to Have Improved Test Scores in India

In India they have something known as India’s free school lunch programme or ‘midday meals’, which was implemented in 2006 and feeds over 120 million children everyday. Chakraborty and Jayaraman studied the effects that this programme was found to have on children’s academic results.

They looked at data of almost 200,000 families across India and found that children that participated in the scheme – children that they knew were having lunch each school day – achieved on average 18% higher test results in Reading and 9% higher in Maths.

We all know the link between eating well and health, now here’s some research to show that regular meals can also improve academic performance.

The Way You Read to Your Child can Affect Their Vocabulary


I love reading to my little boy (when he sits still long enough that is). It’s just a really special moment we can spend quietly sitting, enjoying a book together. I’ve always loved reading and hope that these times will foster in him a lifelong love for reading as well.

As for word learning it makes sense that they should increase their vocabulary. The more you submerge a child in language the more they should absorb.

Flack et al (2018), examined 38 different studies with 2455 children and found that the way you read to your child can make a difference. They found that people that point to things in the book, offer definitions and question children as they read significantly influenced the number of words they learnt.

RELATED If you want to discover some scientifically backed tips about the best ways to read to your child click here.

Too Much Screen Time Could Have a Negative Effect on Your Child’s Development

Too Much Screen Time

I don’t expect it’s too much of a surprise to anyone to hear this.

There’s been a lot of different stories in the news about links to obesity and the possible negative effects of increased screen time in an increasingly digital world.

A recent study by Madigan et al (2019), found that higher levels of screen time in 24 and 36 month olds resulted in poorer performance in developmental screening tests at 36 and 60 months. The screening test looked at communication, motor, social and problem solving skills.

They explain that this may be because when children are watching TV or playing on a tablet they are more sedentary and are missing an opportunity to practise social and motor skills.

Another reason to try and limit your little one’s screen time.

Children May Suffer From too Much Structured Activity

This is an interesting summary of a 2014 paper by the University of Colorado and the University of Denver. It explains how too many structured activities may actually inhibit the development of a child’s cognitive skills and their ability to make their own decisions.

So let’s let them play!

Why Risky Play is Important for Children

Developmental Digest

This is a brilliant post about why children need excitement and risk in their play. Written by Mariana Brussoni, who is the Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of British Columbia, it looks at the research that suggests why children should have more opportunities for risky play outdoors.

She talks about how risky play can improve a child’s self-confidence and resilience as well as enhance their physical and risk management skills.

She also gives advice to parents about how they can sensibly give children the opportunity to engage in risky play.

Well worth a read!

RELATED To read more about all the amazing benefits of play for children check out this article.

Well that’s it for issue #1 of Developmental Digest. I hope you found these interesting – please share if you did.

Look forward to any comments. Don’t forget to subscribe below if you want to learn more about the science behind child development and parenting!

Let’s nurture those neurons!

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