The damage caused by screens on a child's brain
The World Health Organization (WHO) has even recommended keeping children under one year away from cell phones, tablets and televisions as much as possible, and pediatricians recommend hand toys in the digital age, not gadgets. Now a new study has used MRIs to check the damage that the screens do to the brains of the little ones.
The medical journal on pediatrics JAMA Pediatrics has published the research this week, warning of the detriment in children's literacy and language skills caused by the screens. The integrity of the cerebral white matter has been the main affected in the brains of the children who were part of the study and who indicated greater exposure to the screens. The integrity of white matter has to do with the organization of the nerve fibers that make up the internal communications network of the brain.The health of white matter integrity is associated with cognitive functions and develops as children learn the language, the researchers explained. That is, scientists have found a link between greater use of screens and less integrity of the brain white matter, and have associated greater exposure to the screen with lower levels of language and literacy skills. The finding is remarkable in that the first years of life are fundamental for the cognitive development of human beings.
Screen time for children? The less, the better"The size of the effect is substantial since these findings were also rigorously controlled for multiple comparisons across the brain," said lead study author John Hutton of the Children's Hospital of Cincinnati (USA) in MIT Technology Review. The research was carried out with a sample of around fifty children between 3 and 5 years old, with the collaboration of their parents, who answered questions related to their children's screen time habits.
The results of this study, in turn, corroborate other investigations on the matter. For example, in December 2018, a study conducted over a decade was published that revealed that children who spend more than two hours every day in front of a screen get worse results in oral and language exams. He also supports WHO when he said that " time before the screen is not recommended " for children under 2 years of age, and that for those between 2 and 5 years, only one hour in front of the screen is recommended.
Hutton himself has recommended ridding children of the screens at least up to 3 years, although he has clarified that "it is difficult to say what is the 'safe' age or the time (recommended) of screen time." That is why he has invited parents to consider the possibility of never allowing their children under 3 years to use screens, because "this way at least it takes children to reach preschool with a solid base of experience in the real world when they have established and its basic sense of connection with caregivers and their first language skills. "
The important thing is to remember that "children are not small adults", so "their needs change with development" and "caution" is always recommended, according to the scientist. The study concludes that "the findings suggest that more studies are needed, particularly during the early rapid stages of brain development." Researchers have also set the goal of understanding how parents' screen time affects the development and well-being of their children.