Published: Thu, November 07, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Screen time impact on kids’ white matter

Screen time impact on kids’ white matter

Dr.Hutton is a lead author of this new study "Children Brain Development", is the director of the Reading and Literacy Discovery Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

Meanwhile, children aged between two and five should "limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high quality programs".

Researchers said those children had lower levels of development in the brain's white matter. Researchers looked at brain MRIs in 47 preschoolers and found that screen time over the AAP's recommendations was associated with differences in brain structure in areas related to language and literacy development.

The new study used a special type of MRI. Kids up to two years of age can be allowed minimum screen time while those between three and four years of age should not watch screens for more than one hour a day.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids have limited screen use due to the possible cognitive behavioral risks, including language delay, poor sleep and impaired executive function, according to the study. Instead, it may be passive for brain development.

"Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they're seeing", the AAP guidelines read.

Although TV has been around for decades, Hutton pointed out that the recent explosion of portable screen devices has greatly increased the time kids spend looking at them.

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"All the bells and whistles (from devices) and stimulating things probably do too much for kids and make it so that they're not as incentivized to use their imaginations, and to talk and really practice these skills that they're just learning how to use at a young age". Hutton said. "They can take screens to bed, they can take them to meals, they can take them to the vehicle, to the playground". "But it's important for parents to know that these results don't show that heavy media use causes 'brain damage, '" Radesky wrote.

Scientists compared MRI scans of nearly 50 children under six with the results of questionnaires completed by their parents setting out how long they spend on phones, tablets and watching TV.

And in teenagers and adults, "small doses of screen time can be a mental health-positive way of relaxing, reducing stress, and connecting socially to friends and family members".

Avoid screen time for at least an hour before bedtime. It showed the degrees of myelination of the neurons in the brains of the kids.

The AAP advises designated shared times when screens are banned - such as during dinner or in the vehicle - as well as media-free locations such as bedrooms. The concern is that children with under-stimulated brains in early childhood could develop less efficient connections that become harder to reinforce or fix as they get older.

Even more concerning, say experts, are the young ages at which children are being exposed.

In fact, an AAP report published last year recommended that doctors prescribe a daily dose of playtime for kids, noting that average playtime among United States kids has dropped by as much as 25% during the last 30 years, while screen time has increased significantly. Parents should see the media together with the children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.

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