New studies have revealed that screen time (TV, video games, Internet etc.) modifies brain structure and cognitive functioning. In one study where children between the ages of 3 and 5 had their brains scanned, those kids whose screen time exceeded the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines had lower levels of white matter integrity in areas associated with language and emergent literacy skills (white matter or myelin insulates nerve pathways and carries messages around the brain more quickly and efficiently).
Other studies have also shown problematic links between screen time in youngsters and cognitive skills. A Canadian study linked screen time to poorer attention span in preschoolers. Another study showed a connection between mobile phone use with 18-month-old kids and delays in expressive language. A further study showed that screen time can negatively affect how a child performs on developmental testing.
This is serious, folks. We’re talking about how screen time is interfering with young children’s neurological and cognitive growth at a time in their life when the environment has a critical influence on their later development. Parents and educators need to place a protective shield around society’s most vulnerable members with regard to the amount of time they engage with media. According to AAP guidelines, that means NO media exposure up to 24 months (other than video chatting), and one hour MAXIMUM for children ages 2 to 5 (and that time should be optimally where you and your child watch together and talk about what you see). Got it?