A New Study Shows That Screen Time Is Linked to Lower Brain Development in Preschoolers

A new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found that excessive screen time use by preschoolers could lead to a lower level of brain development.

The journal used diffusion tensor imaging to scan white matter in 47 children that were of preschool age. The scans revealed that some of the participants had delays in language development, literacy, and cognitive skills.

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Parents of children who participated in the study filled out a ScreenQ survey where they detailed how much screen time their children were using. Their children were given a cognitive test at the same time.

Researchers, who conducted the study between August 2017 and November 2018, found a link between children who had a higher ScreenQ score with “poorer expressive language and did worse on tests of language processing speed, like rapidly naming options,” according to The New York Times.

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“This is the first study to document associations between higher screen use and lower measures of brain structure and skills in preschool-aged kids,” lead author Dr. John Hutton, a pediatrician and clinical researcher at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, said, according to CNN.

“This is important because the brain is developing the most rapidly in the first five years. That’s when brains are very plastic and soaking up everything, forming these strong connections that last for life,” he continued.

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It should be noted, however, that researchers say that “screen time implications for brain development on young kids still remain unknown despite found associations.”

The World Health Organization recommends that children under the age of one have no screen time and children under 5 should have an hour or less of screen time per day.

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If you can’t avoid screen time, Sierra Fiulucci, editorial director for Common Sense Media, told People that “all content should be deliberately chosen. Background TV isn’t the best choice because it can limit conversation and expose kids to content their not ready for.”  

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