Heavy screen time appears to impact childrens' brains

Baby playing with a laptop

Baby playing with a laptop

In the study by USA researchers into children's brain health, those who had developed premature thinning of the cortex, the outermost layer of the brain, were found to have spent multiple hours in front of screens. "It won't be until we follow them over time that we will see if there are outcomes that are associated with the differences that we're seeing in this single snapshot".

"I think there's a recognition from the makers of these successful devices that perhaps there are issues with too much screen time", said Connie Guglielmo, Editor in Chief of CNET.

In a large study, American scientists scanned the brains of nine- and ten-year-olds in 21 research centers across the United States. In one pilot study, babies were unable to correlate playing virtual blocks on an iPad with stacking real, hands-on blocks when researchers transitioned activities.

"Parents play an important role in helping children and teens navigate the media environment, just as they help them learn how to behave off-line", said Dr. Yolanda Reid Chassiakos, the lead author of the AAP technical report. This period is critical for human brain development.

Infants are more "vulnerable", said Christakis, "because the experience of making something happen is so much more gratifying to them".

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Specifically, children who spend two hours a day or more behind a screen score lower on cognitive, memory, and language tests than those who spend less time.

Exposure to phone and TV screens has been changing the structure of the young brain - and maybe not for the betterDr.

One independent short-term study at the University of Pennsylvania, college students who set limits on their Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat time to only 30 minutes reported decreases in loneliness and depression.

Apple, the instigator of the "smartphone revolution", offers parents the ability to place restrictions on apps.

A publication of data is expected for early 2019, according to Bloomberg.

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