Correlation Between the Use of Screens and the Development of Brains

A new study found that there is a correlation between the use of screens and the development of brains in young children, especially in areas related to language function. The study further suggests that the time for preschool children to touch the screen should be minimized.

The study was published on Monday (November 4) in the American Medical Association’s Journal of Pediatrics (JAMA Pediatrics). The lead author is Dr. John S. Hutton, director of the Reading and Literacy Discovery Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

The researchers performed a special brain scan of 47 healthy children aged 3 to 5 years, namely magnetic resonance diffusion tensor imaging, to assess the integrity of white matter in the brain. These children are all from English-speaking families, most of whom are in the upper middle class.

After asking parents about their child’s screen usage, the researchers scored ScreenQ. This score has been developed and validated over the past few years based on the American Academy of Pediatrics Screen Time Guide and is by far the most authoritative guide.

Zero points means 100% “conformity”, that is, there is no screen in the bedroom; children only start watching TV or using the app for more than 18 months; no contact with violent content; preschool children spend 1 hour a day watching high-quality programs Watch with your parents and more. The 26 points mean that there is no “regularity”. If the child is less than 1 year old, they will start to look at the screen; the bedroom has a screen; watch the violence; the total time for watching the screen is too long; there is no parent to accompany when watching.

Do anything to strengthen the connection between neurons

The researchers then compared the children’s ScreenQ to their brain scans, which showed the degree of myelination of the neurons, the connection between the nerve cells and the white matter formed by a fatty substance, myelin. cover. It insulates nerve cells and improves signal transmission efficiency.

Dr. Hutton said, “The more opportunities that are encouraged and communicated, whether they are linguistic areas or functional execution areas, the greater the stimulating effect on the neuronal coating.” “The content of myelin around nerve fibers The frequency of stimulation and the frequency of use are directly related.”

He said that when the relevant ganglia in the child’s brain is myelinated, the child reaches a developmental milestone. For example, language skills are “excited” at 18 months. When the connection between the Wernicke (word understanding) and the Broca (language processing) of the brain is fully highlighted, the children will change from “one word to one word” to “one sentence at a time.” Say”.

Dr. Hutton said, “The maxim from neuroscience is “neurons that fire together wire together.” Anything can strengthen this connection.”

This is why traditional education encourages children to read, play, tell stories, outdoor activities and all other things that can enrich their children’s lives.

Use the screen to influence children’s language and cognitive ability

The average score of ScreenQ in this study was approximately 9 points, ranging from 1 to 19 points. Specifically, approximately 41% of children have screens in their bedrooms; approximately 60% of children have their own portable devices; the median screen time per day is 1.5 hours, ranging from 0 to 12 hours.

Children with higher ScreenQ scores had lower levels of structural integrity and myelination after considering age, gender, and income, especially in areas involving language and literacy skills.

The researchers also conducted cognitive tests on children and studied their language and early literacy rates. It was found that cognitive ability is closely related to how much the child is touching the screen. Children who frequently use the screen have poor language skills. It also performs poorly in language processing speed tests, such as poor ability to quickly identify objects.

Dr. Hutton said, “This is the first study of the correlation between screen usage time and brain structure and related skills.”

The problem is that the screen replaces the traditional way

However, this correlation is only an association, not a causal relationship. If there is a direct connection, it may have little to do with the screen itself, but has a greater relationship with the substitution status of the screen in the child’s life.

Dr. Hutton wrote in an e-mail, “It’s not “how bad the screen is,” but “It’s too early to touch the screen.” Just like driving is not a bad thing, but driving at 3 or 5 years old. “It’s not a good idea,” he said, especially for tablets. “They are powerful and versatile, but they should not be the hands of preschool children.”

Therefore, this is not to say that the screen itself is harmful, nor is it to blame the parents for allowing the child to touch the screen. This is intended to remind how brain development is affected by “experience”; which experience may be most helpful and constructive, and how parents can grasp the key to these experiences.

The same group also conducted another study and found that in addition to traditional education methods such as people and people and nature, more stimulating family literacy games have a positive impact on brain structure development.

Dr. Hutton once again stressed that from the perspective of brain science, what young children need is “the experience of solidly strengthening these networks.” If the screen replaces the interaction, conversation or entertainment between the child and the caretaker, it may be Children’s neuroplasticity and potential development are unfavorable.

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A new study found that there is a correlation between the use of screens and the development of brains in young children, especially in areas related to language function.

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