Can screen time affect brain development?
Researchers examined brain activity tests in nearly 440 children at 18 months of age. At 12 months of age, the parents reported their baby’s screen time. At 9 years of age, their attention and executive functions such as self-control, time management, planning and thinking were measured. Researchers believe infant screen use may be associated with altered brain activity before 2 years of age as well as poorer performance in executive functioning at age 9.
“This study supports the need for additional research regarding the long-term effects of early screen time on developing brains,” says Dr. Scott Zahn, a pediatrician with Aurora Children’s Health in De Pere, Wis. “We know that today’s children are growing up surrounded by technology and screens, but we don’t know enough about the impact of that exposure on the health and development of young children.”
Dr. Zahn points to the current recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics on technology use and screen time in children. The recommendations include:
- Limiting the use of screens for children under 18 months of age entirely other than video chatting.
- Limiting screen time in children 2-5 years old to one hour a day. The programming should be of high-quality and co-viewed to help the child understand what they are seeing.
- Do not use media as a soothing strategy.
About the Author
Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator on the content team at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.