The time children spend on screens would change the physical structure of their brains. This is revealed in a new study.
A link between screens and structural change in the brain
A new study, published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, shows that screen time has an impact on the structural and physical changes in the brains of young children. Scientists analyzed the brains of 47 children aged 3 to 5 years old. Thanks to MRIs, they were able to observe changes in their brains. The researchers also asked parents different questions about the subject, such as the type of content watched and the time spent on screens.
The researchers compared the brains of young children who did not have screens in the bedroom, did not start watching television or using applications until they were over 18 months old. In addition, they had no exposure to violent content and total screen time for preschoolers equivalent to one hour per day. On the other hand, they studied the brains of children who started being on screens when they were less than a year old, had screens in the room and spent much more time on screens. The researchers then compared their brain scans, which showed the degree of myelination of neurons, the coating of connections between nerve cells and a white fatty substance, myelin.
The modified internal communication network
The results show that children who spent more time in front of the screens, compared to other children, had a different brain structure. The researchers noted lower white matter integrity. This white substance connects neurons from one region of the brain to another. It is essential for the proper functioning of the brain but also during learning.
Too much time on screens would modify this white substance, which is essential for an optimal internal brain communication network. The author of the study, a pediatrician and assistant professor at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, John Hutton, advises parents not to expose children under the age of three to screens. This would allow young children to develop in the real world and focus on other essential skills such as language.