A group of researchers working on a new study have found that excessive screen time for kids can mean a lower brain development rate. The researchers who published their findings in the journal JAMA Pediatrics said that spending more than one hour every day in front of screens can affect the white matter in the brain of the children.
The first five years of the brain are essential for its development which made the researchers study the brain function among toddlers, infants and preschoolers. The study suggests that spending more than necessary time in front of screens can increase behavioral problems, poor brain coordination, inadequate eating habits, sleeping problems and also deteriorates the relationship between parents and the child. The research published on Monday studied the white matter of about 47 children, which connects the central nervous system and grey matter. The children who belonged to the age group 3-5 included 27 girls and 20 boys recruited at a children’s hospital in the US.
The researchers employed diffusion tensor imaging (DTI,) an MRI technique, to study their brain functions. The screen time spent by the children in front of the TV, laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc., was assessed by the researchers. According to a CNN report, Dr. John Hutton, lead author of the study, said, “The average screen time in these kids was a little over two hours a day. The range was anywhere from about an hour to a little over five hours.”
The amount of time these children spent in front of screens was directly proportional to the damage observed in their brain’s white matter. Hutton, who is a pediatrician and clinical researcher at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital further explained, “These are tracks that we know are involved with language and literacy. And these were the ones relatively underdeveloped in these kids with more screen time. So the imaging findings lined up pretty perfectly with the behavioral cognitive testing finding.”