Study Shows Heavy Screen Time Impacts Childrens' Brains

The on-going debate about children and screen time may finally come to an end. 

Researchers have found what they call "different patterns" in brain scans in children who have long periods in front of a screen. 

National Institute of Health (NIH)conducted this study, and within their first wave found that those nine and 10-year-old kids spending more than seven hours a day using such devices show signs of premature thinning of the cortex, the brain's outermost layer that processes sensory information.

"We don't know if it's being caused by the screen time. We don't know yet if it's a bad thing," said Gaya Dowling, an NIH doctor working on the project, explaining the preliminary findings in an interview with the CBS news program 60 Minutes.

"What we can say is that this is what the brains look like of kids who spend a lot of time on screens. And it's not just one pattern," Dowling said.

The data reported by NIH (specifically on CBS) showed that kids who spend more than two hours a day on screens score worse on language and reasoning tests.

The study scanned the brains of 4,500 children in an attempt to understand whether screen time is addictive or not.  

"In many ways, the concern that investigators like I have is, that we're sort of in the midst of a natural kind of uncontrolled experiment on the next generation of children," Dimitri Christakis, a lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics' most recent guidelines on screen time, told 60 Minutes.

Parents and guardians - Initial data from the study will begin to be released in early 2019.

The academy now recommends parents "avoid digital media use—except video chatting—in children younger than 18 to 24 months."

If you'd like to watch the video feature provided by CBS' 60 Minutes, click here.

Leave your comments and thoughts - this is such a polarized topic, that bringing the conversation to the forefront might help parents and guardians as well as a child's mental health. 

Photos: Getty Images

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