Scientists link impaired brain function with excessive screen time in childhood
Excessive screen time for young children is linked to impaired brain function later in life, according to the Straits Times newspaper, citing a study by Singaporean scientists, TASS reports
“The study provides compelling evidence to existing studies that our children’s screen time needs to be closely monitored, particularly during early brain development,” said one of the study’s authors, from the National University of Singapore and the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, Dr. Evelyn Law.
In the study, which was conducted over several years, scientists observed 506 children. They collected information from their parents about how much, on average, per day their children spend behind the screen of various gadgets. Next, the subjects were divided into groups depending on the amount of time they spend behind the screen, and tested at the age of one year, one and a half years and nine years.
As the duration of screen time children were exposed to increased, more altered brain activity and more cognitive deficits were identified by scientists. In particular, the researchers found a relationship between excessive use of technology and impairments in the so-called executive functions of the brain, which are responsible for controlling impulses and emotions, sustaining attention, following through multi-step instructions, and persisting in hard tasks.
Scientists also suggest that gadgets negatively affect the development of the prefrontal cortex of the brain which controls executive functioning. This area of the brain has a longer development period, right up to the university years, so it is at risk of external influences.