New Technologies

This is how children's brains change when they abuse screens


How many hours does your child spend in front of a screen? It is no longer just about television, and its use among the smallest of the house may be increasingly unusual, but now children have access to many more devices: tablets, computers, mobiles, game consoles ... Parents cannot help but wonder about the consequences that these have on our children, especially when they use them excessively. ¿What happens in children's brains when they abuse screens different devices?

A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health in the United States is investigating how it physically affects children excessive exposure to different mobile devices. To do this, brain scans of children who sit in front of screens for a long time have been compared with those of others who seek other forms of entertainment. In these images, the researchers have ensured that several differences in brain patterns can be seen.

This means that by spending a lot of time in front of a screen, the structure of the child's brain changes. More specifically, this research indicates that children ages 9 and 10 who spend more than 7 hours a day using different devices suffer from premature thinning of the cerebral cortex. It should be taken into account that this is the layer of the brain that processes all the information related to touch, smell, hearing, etc.

These results are the first data of a great investigation that is still ongoing. Researchers have pointed out that it is not yet possible to determine that these changes in children's brains are due to the time they spend in front of the screens. However, they do say that it is clear that the brain structures of children who use video game consoles and mobile phones a lot are different.

On the other hand, the United States Institute of Health also points out that those children who spend more than two hours a day in front of the screens, obtain poorer score on reasoning and language tests.

You may have heard of different studies that list the risks of new technologies for little ones. However, this is not the time to step back and restrict all device use to our children. Technology is also a very beneficial tool for children, as it helps them, among other things, in their learning. It is our task as parents make them understand how to enjoy it in a healthy way, away from addictions and risks.

To do this, the first thing to bear in mind is that, depending on their age, children may spend more or less time using the screens. There are different recommendations from the experts, but we are going to stick with those of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

1. It is recommended avoiding the use of digital media for babies under 18 or 24 months, except in the case of videoconferences. From this age, it can be used always being the parents who choose quality content. It is advisable to watch these videos with them and talk about them while they are viewed, since in this way they learn and interact with them.

2. For children between 2 and 5 years it is recommended to limit to one hour a day access to the screens, always looking for content that fits their age.

3. From 6 years old, parents must establish time limits and rules about the type of devices children have access to. It must always be borne in mind that, at no time, new technologies can take away sleep, play or physical activity time from the child.

4. During adolescence, it is normal that our son spends more time with the mobile. Many teens use this device to build an important part of their social relationships. In fact, digital media and social networks can help young people to understand more about themselves and the people around them. However, make sure they know where the limits are, the kinds of behaviors to avoid, and the threats they may be exposed to.

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