Study: Excessive screen time may alter early brain development

KMBZ News Staff
November 08, 2019 - 4:00 am
Little girl uses a small touch-screen device.

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Kansas City, MO - A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows parents should be concerned about the amount of time young children spend using electronic devices.

The study indicates excessive screen time may delay brain development in kids under the age of five. Researchers identified children who use devices more than two hours a day and conducted MRI tests to examine specific brain circuits that affect language, memory and reasoning.

"These circuits, in terms of brain integrity and how strong these circuits were, do not appear to be as robust as kids who were getting less screen time," said Dr. Brian Aalbers, a pediatric neurologist at Overland Park Regional Medical Center. 

It is not yet clear whether brain development is affected by the screen time itself or a lack of interaction with other people. Doctors also do not know if the poor brain development is permanent.  

"In future studies, we should do studies where we look at kids under the age of five, and then maybe the age of 10, then age 12, and see if these changes we're seeing in young children continue to cause problems later on in life," Aalbers said.

Previous studies have shown youngsters who watch too much television can develop symptoms like attention deficit disorder and they may have difficulty organizing thoughts and activities. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for kids under 18 months. For children 18 months to four years of age, doctors recommend limited time with quality educational media, while interacting with adults. Then, no more than one hour a day for kids four to five.

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