Research Says Screen Time Can Alter Children’s Brain Structure

Excessive screen time due to increased exposure to phones, tablets, and other internet-enabled devices is constantly being researched. After all, a generation of kids is growing up with the chronic use of such devices. This increases their screen time.

The real question here, however, is that does this increased screen time affects the kids’ brains?

What Does Research Say In This Regard?

A mounting amount of research talks about the effects of increased screen time among children. Studies indicate that excessive screen time increases the risk of obesity among kids. It also has a negative reputation for disturbing their sleep.

Newer study on the use of social media and screen time learns that social media surfing activated the reward system of the brain. As a result, increased dopamine was released. This increased craving and desire among the teenagers.

Other research concludes that the use of electronic media at night ups the odds of depression and sleep disturbance among kids. This is largely due to the blue light that the screens emit. The artificial blue light disturbs the sleep clock or internal biological clock, which disturbs slumber.

What Does The Latest Study Say?

The latest research takes a different approach. It dug into how the brain structure of kids were impacted with the use of electronic gadgets and subsequent increased screen time. The study was conducted from the National Institute of Health.

It takes data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. This data was collected by the ABCD study by following over 11,000 kids between the ages of 9-10 years. The results were then gathered to learn the effect of screen time on the brain structure.

The findings showed that children who were exposed to two hours of screen time daily had low scores on their language and thinking tests. Another interesting conclusion was the brain structure was altered due to the screen time.

MRI scans from the kids showed that brain structures of children who were exposed to screens for more than seven hours in a day were significantly different from the kids who did not use that much of the electronic screen.

The scans show a premature thinning of the outmost layer of the brain called as the cortex. The cortex is responsible for processing different types of information from the different senses. The researchers explained that the maturation of cortex is a normal process that occurs later on.

However, the kids showed early maturation of the cortex. At the same time, the study also learned that the children performed poorly on their academic tests. The scientists say that it is hard to tell if one of these findings was causing the other. So, there is more research needed to learn why such effects are surfacing and whether they have a relationship.

Bottom Line

All in all, this study clarifies that excessive screen time is harmful for the kids and alters their brain structure. It can affect their performance in academic tests as well.