It has been reported from Washington that a study from the National Institute of Health shows that those nine and ten year olds who spend more than seven hours in a day using screen time show signs of premature thinning of the cortex, the brains outer most layer that processes sensory information. The researchers have found ‘different patterns’ in brain scans among children of this age group who record heavy usage of devices and video games. ‘We don’t know if it’s being caused by the screen time. We don’t know yet if it’s a bad thing,’ said an NIH doctor working on the project.
The study further goes on to say that those kids who spend more than two hours of screen time scored worse on language and reasoning skills than others. The expansive study involves 4500 children and aims to show whether screen time is addictive. Researchers will need several years to understand such long term outcomes.
The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends parents to avoid digital media use, except video chatting, in children younger than 18 to 24 months.
Over the next decade the study will include 11,00 children who are currently 9-10 years old, as they grow up around screens. Although researchers are just beginning their study, the first findings have found that as little as two hours of screen time daily can negatively impact children. These negative effects occur because children do not know how to translate two dimensional skills learned on a screen to the real three dimensional world.
Doctors are quick to stress the importance of face to face communication and suggest screen time be reduced to the minimal possible except for video calling. Guidelines to parents also suggest that parents accompany their young children whenever they are using screens. ‘Co viewing is best when possible and for young children they learn best when they are re taught in the real world what they just learned through a screen,’ the guidelines noted.
The NIH study hopes to retrieve information that can better inform screen related health guidelines though it will take time.