Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center study: Screen-based media associated with structural differences in brains of young children

10 Nov

Andrew Stevensen wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald article, The screens that are stealing childhood:

Australians have smartphones and tablet computers gripped in their sweaty embrace, adopting the new internet-enabled technology as the standard operating platform for their lives, at work, home and play.
But it is not only adults who are on the iWay to permanent connection. As parents readily testify, many children don’t just use the devices, they are consumed by them.
”These devices have an almost obsessive pull towards them,” says Larry Rosen, professor of psychology at California State University and author of iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming its Hold on Us.
”How can you expect the world to compete with something like an iPad3 with a high-definition screen, clear video and lots of interactivity? How can anything compete with that? There’s certainly no toy that can.
”Even old people like me can’t stop themselves from tapping their pocket to make sure their iPhone is there. Imagine a teenager, even a pre-teen, who’s grown up with these devices attached at the hip 24/7 and you end up with what I think is a problem.”
The technology has been absorbed so comprehensively that the jury on the potential impact on young people is not just out, it’s yet to be empanelled.
”The million-dollar question is whether there are risks in the transfer of real time to online time and the answer is that we just don’t know,” says Andrew Campbell, a child and adolescent psychologist….
Authoritative standards on appropriate levels of use are limited. The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends parents discourage TV for children under two and limit screen time for older children to less than two hours a day.
The guidelines, says Professor Rosen, are ”ludicrous” but the need for them and constant communication with young people about technology and how they use it, remains. ”It’s no longer OK to start talking to your kids about technology when they’re in their teens. You have to start talking to them about it as soon as you hand them your iPhone or let them watch television or Skype with grandma,” he says.
He suggests a ratio of screen time to other activities of 1:5 for very young children, 1:1 for pre-teens and 5:1 for teenagers. Parents should have weekly talks with their children from the start, looking for signs of obsession, addiction and lack of attention. http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/the-screens-that-are-stealing-childhood-20120528-1zffr.html

See, Technology Could Lead to Overstimulation in Kids http://www.educationnews.org/parenting/technology-could-lead-to-overstimulation-in-kids/

Science Daily reported in Screen-based media associated with structural differences in brains of young children:

A new study documents structural differences in the brains of preschool-age children related to screen-based media use.
The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, shows that children who have more screen time have lower structural integrity of white matter tracts in parts of the brain that support language and other emergent literacy skills. These skills include imagery and executive function — the process involving mental control and self-regulation. These children also have lower scores on language and literacy measures.
The Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center study assessed screen time in terms of American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations. The AAP recommendations not only take into account time spent in front of screens but also access to screens, including portable devices; content; and who children are with and how they interact when they are looking at screens.
“This study raises questions as to whether at least some aspects of screen-based media use in early childhood may provide sub-optimal stimulation during this rapid, formative state of brain development,” says John Hutton, MD, director of the, Reading & Literacy Discovery Center at Cincinnati Children’s and lead author of the study. “While we can’t yet determine whether screen time causes these structural changes or implies long-term neurodevelopmental risks, these findings warrant further study to understand what they mean and how to set appropriate limits on technology use….” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/11/191104112918.htm

Citation:

Screen-based media associated with structural differences in brains of young children
Date: November 4, 2019
Source: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Summary:
A new study documents structural differences in the brains of preschool-age children related to screen-based media use.

Journal Reference:
John S. Hutton, Jonathan Dudley, Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus, Tom DeWitt, Scott K. Holland. Associations Between Screen-Based Media Use and Brain White Matter Integrity in Preschool-Aged Children. JAMA Pediatrics, 2019; e193869 DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.3869

Here is the press release from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center:

Screen-based media associated with structural differences in brains of young children
by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, shows that children who have more screen time have lower structural integrity of white matter tracts in parts of the brain that support language and other emergent literacy skills. These skills include imagery and executive function—the process involving mental control and self-regulation. These children also have lower scores on language and literacy measures.
The Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center study assessed screen time in terms of American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations. The AAP recommendations not only take into account time spent in front of screens but also access to screens, including portable devices; content; and who children are with and how they interact when they are looking at screens.
“This study raises questions as to whether at least some aspects of screen-based media use in early childhood may provide sub-optimal stimulation during this rapid, formative state of brain development,” says John Hutton, MD, director of the, Reading & Literacy Discovery Center at Cincinnati Children’s and lead author of the study. “While we can’t yet determine whether screen time causes these structural changes or implies long-term neurodevelopmental risks, these findings warrant further study to understand what they mean and how to set appropriate limits on technology use.”
Among the AAP recommendations:
• For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.
• For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
• Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
• Higher ScreenQ scores were associated with lower brain white matter integrity, which affects organization and myelination—the process of forming a myelin sheath around a nerve to allow nerve impulses to move more quickly—in tracts involving language executive function and other literacy skills.
“Screen-based media use is prevalent and increasing in home, childcare and school settings at ever younger ages,” says Dr. Hutton. “These findings highlight the need to understand effects of screen time on the brain, particularly during stages of dynamic brain development in early childhood, so that providers, policymakers and parents can set healthy limits.”
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Explore further
New studies measure screen-based media use in children https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-05-screen-based-media-children.html
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Journal information: JAMA Pediatrics
Provided by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-11-screen-based-media-differences-brains-young.html

There is something to be said for Cafe Society where people actually meet face-to-face for conversation or the custom of families eating at least one meal together. Time has a good article on The Magic of the Family Meal http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1200760,00.html See, also Family Dinner: The Value of Sharing Meals http://www.ivillage.com/family-dinner-value-sharing-meals/6-a-128491
Perhaps, acting like the power is out from time to time and using Helen Robin’s suggestions is not such a bad idea.

Related:

Two studies: Social media and social dysfunction https://drwilda.com/2013/04/13/two-studies-social-media-and-social-dysfunction/

Common Sense Media report: Kids migrating away from Facebook
https://drwilda.com/tag/the-impact-of-social-media-use-on-children/

Is ‘texting’ destroying literacy skills https://drwilda.com/2012/07/30/is-texting-destroying-literacy-skills/

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