The National Institutes of Health has launched a study that will be conducted on kids ages 9-10 throughout the United States. The study is in the early phases and will last ten years, but the early results are fascinating. Although the study will take years, here are some of the results to date:
- MRI results from 4,500 participants showed varying differences in the brains of children that use digital screens more than seven hours per day. The biggest difference being premature thinning of the cortex.
- Kids who spend more than two hours per day on screens are already performing lower on thinking and language tests.
The study was highlighted on ‘60 Minutes’ which featured multiple doctors and researchers that are taking part. We highly encourage you to watch the full segment to see how screen time could be affecting your child’s brain. Here are few key takeaways:
- Babies younger than 18-24 months should avoid digital use completely, other than facetime for phone calls. The first two years are one of the most crucial times for brain development in children.
- When Toddlers are using i-pads, tablets, and phones to watch videos or play games, their attention is captured for a much longer period of time than during any other type of play. The products are designed to hold their attention as long as possible. Parents should control the amount of time a child is using them, and an adult should always be present.
- Findings are showing that the percentage of teens that say they are lonely or depressed has spiked in recent years. A test that limited college students to just 30 minutes of social media use a day, found that they felt significant decreases in loneliness and depression. Talk to your teen about how much time they are spending on social media.
- Scans on the brains of young adults are showing a dopamine effect when they are actively using their phones. The release of dopamine has a role in cravings and desire. This constant gratification means they are much more likely to be impulsive and stay on social media compulsively.
Technology is here to stay — it’s part of your day-to-day, but how you use it, engage with it and allow it to be a part of your young child’s life is up to you. If you have any questions about how this technology is affecting your child, please call Children’s Medical Center. Our doctors are happy to help guide you and assist in creating a media plan that works best for you and your family.