Electronics and the preschool brain

Electronics and the preschool brain


Electronics and the preschool brain


Busy parents increasingly use smartphones and tablets to keep babies and young children quiet. You probably have seen it many times. The busy young mother needs to get the shopping done, pick up the dry cleaning and talk to the electrician about that light fixture that just won’t turn on. Her three year old son is making it impossible. In frustration, she plays a dinosaur cartoon from YouTube and hands him the phone. Problem solved.


The problem with that solution is that too much screen time is bad for the brain of a young child.


In 2016, The American Academy of Pediatrics created guidelines regarding children’s screen time. 


– Avoid screen time for children younger than 18 months, with the exception of video chatting.


– From 18 to 24 months, introduce digital media by watching quality programming like PBS Kids or Sesame Workshop with children.


– For ages 2 to 5, limit screen time to 1 hour per day and watch quality programming with kids.


What happens if a parent allows her child to exceed these limits?


A 2019 study, performed by neuroscientists in Ohio asked the question “Is screen-based media use associated with differences in the structural integrity of brain white matter tracts that support language and literacy skills in preschool-aged children?”


In other words, does too much screen time damage the brains of preschoolers?


The doctors studied 47 prekindergarten children and reported that MRI scans revealed differences in the brains of those who were exposed to screen use greater than that recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines. Certain brain white matter tracts were not organized properly and the lining of the cells (myelination) had not formed properly.


The scientists examined (cognitive assessments) the children who were exposed to too much screen time. They found that those children exhibited worse language and literacy skills.


Keep your kids away from the tablet and smartphone as much as possible.