Screen Time May Be Reshaping Preschoolers' Brains

Cincinnati Childrens Hospital Medical Center

Gupta and her colleagues Sandeep Grover, professor of psychiatry, Prabhjyot Malhi, professor of pediatrics, and researcher Nimran Kaur had in a paper in the journal Indian Pediatrics last month referred to a paucity of data on screen time prevalence among under-five children in India.

A diffusion tensor MRI allows a good look at the white matter of the brain, responsible for organizing communication between the various parts of the brain's gray matter.

Higher ScreenQ scores were significantly associated with lower expressive language, the ability to quickly name objects (processing speed) and emerging literacy skills.

"This is the first study to document associations between higher screen use and lower measures of brain structure and skills in preschool-aged kids", said lead author Dr. John Hutton, a pediatrician and clinical researcher at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

At this stage, children "require face-to-face interaction", said Anderson to reach developmental milestones including building language and social skills.

Their study - based on a sample of only 27 girls and 20 boys in the United States - has also suggested that children with higher periods of screen time on mobile phones or portable devices also have lower scores on language and literacy.

Scans done of these children revealed that those who were placed in front of a screen for more than one hour per day without their parents being involved had a problem with the white matter of their brains.

- From 18 to 24 months, introduce digital media by watching quality programming like PBS Kids or Sesame Workshop with children.

Also, parents should have times when screens are turned off, and bedrooms should be media-free.

Before the MRI, the children were given cognitive tests, while the parents filled out a new scoring system on screen time developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"So many people have smartphones and TVs - anecdotally, we know screen time may be significant in some homes", Gupta said. The doctor compared the part of the brain that was affected by the overuse of screen time, the white matter, to cables connecting different parts of the brain so that they can communicate.

"If your teenager is generally actively participating, getting homework done, having face-to-face interaction with family members and friends, and has extracurricular and physical activity ... parents can relax a little [about screen time] ... and reduce the guilt", Anderson advised. "We're starting to see a lot more children that have these very dysfunctional social patterns, and they're more responsive to media".

Parents need to set the example for their children, Naidoo said. "We need to formulate national guidelines for permissible screen time for children".

"Keeping kids off the screen or away from screens as much as possible - I think no parent really will regret that", said Hutton, who has also done extensive research on the benefits of early reading exposure. "While we still can not determine whether screen time causes these structural changes or involves long-term neurodevelopmental risks, these findings deserve further study to understand what they mean and how to set appropriate limits for the use of technology.".

"It's known that kids that use more screen time tend to grow up in families that use more screen time", Hutton said.

Related:

Comments

Latest news

CM Gautam's contract terminated by Goa Cricket Association after arrest
Earlier, Ashfaq Ali Thara, owner of Belagavi Panthers , too was arrested in September in connection with the KPL fixing scandal. Kazi, on the other hand, had played for the Karnataka state team before transferring to another state.

Meghan Markle's estranged sister Samantha says constant cyberbullying is 'overwhelming'
Meirer's referring to the huge amount of media attention the 38-year-old royal has faced since marrying Prince Harry in May 2018. Samantha Grant (left), the half-sister of Duchess Meghan Markle , who stands aside husband Prince Harry (right).

Djokovic, Federer drawn together in ATP Finals
His participation will be vital to determining who ends the year as world number one. Nadal won two Grand Slams this year - the French Open and the U.S.

Kevin O'Leary and Wife Sued for Wrongful Death in Boat Crash
The suit is being brought forward by Brito's mother, Rosa Ragone , her stepfather Antonio Ragone and her sister Paula Brito. O'Leary is facing one count of careless operation of a vessel, while Ruh is charged with not exhibiting a navigation light.

Els reveals Presidents Cup wild cards
The U.S. holds a 10-1-1 record in the competition, with the only defeat coming at the 1998 Presidents Cup , also played at Royal Melbourne.

Other news