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11th Dec 2018

Heavy use of digital devices could impact on children’s information processing

Amy Nolan

A lot of screen time could negatively impact children’s cognitive function.

If you’re a parent in the twenty-first century, you’ll know it’s near impossible to prise kids away from digital devices. While in small doses they are pretty harmless, excess screen time could have negative ramifications on children’s health, one study suggests.

Researchers are now noticing differences between scans of children who spend a lot of time on digital devices, as opposed to children who don’t.

The study is part of on-going research in the US, but RTÉ reports that:

“The first wave of information from the $300 million National Institute of Health study is showing that those nine and ten-year-old kids spending more than seven hours a day using such devices show signs of premature thinning of the cortex, the brain’s outermost layer that processes sensory information.”

Gaya Dowling, an NIH doctor working on the project, said that scientists are not yet sure whether this is due to screen time, but patterns are certainly being established.

4,500 children have had their brains scanned and the NIH data also indicates that kids who spend more than two hours a day on screens score worse on language and reasoning tests.

While more extensive findings are due to be released early next year, the academy now recommends parents “avoid digital media use, except video chatting, in children younger than 18 to 24 months”.

Perhaps it’s best to consider the old expression here:

“All things in moderation and moderation in all things.”