Study from Ohio Children’s Hospital Finds Excessive Screen Time Fundamentally Changes Parts of Kids’ Brains

New research out of a prominent children’s hospital in Ohio has found that too much time in from of digital screens fundamentally changes parts of the brain.

Published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center conducted the study on 47 healthy local children ages 3 to 5 through cognitive testing and magnetic resonance imaging of their brains.

The research did not show how excessive use of digital devices where kids are in front of screens changed the brain, but it did reveal that skills like brain processing speed were affected.

“Screen-based media use is prevalent and increasing in homes, childcare and school settings at ever younger ages,” said Dr. John Hutton, who authored the study and is the director of the Reading & Literacy Discovery Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

“These findings highlight the need to understand effects of screen time on the brain, particularly during stages of dynamic brain development in early childhood, so that providers, policymakers and parents can set healthy limits,” he said.

The researchers assessed screen time using the guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends that children younger than 18 months should avoid all screen media except for video chatting and that parents should actively monitor digital media intake and watch it with their children.

“The children in the Cincinnati study completed standard cognitive tests and a special test called diffusion tensor MRI, which estimates white matter integrity in the brain,” reported.

“Researchers gave the parents in the study a 15-item screening tool based on the AAP’s media recommendations. Those scores were matched to the cognitive test scores and the MRI measures, controlling for age, gender and household income.”

The research found that those who received higher scores on the screening tool were significantly associated with lower expressive language, ability to name objects quickly processing speed and early reading skills.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Brandon Showalter