Screen time and your child's brain

By Beth Riedesel

Yorktown Public Library

The National Institute of Health has undertaken a landmark 10-year study to see how social, environmental, genetic, and other factors may affect a child’s brain and cognitive development and influence his/her life.  One of the components is the effect of screen time on brain development and health from age 9 into young adulthood.  

The ABCD (Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development) study is investigating how scrolling, texting, gameplaying, and other screen time affects kids’ behavioral development and mental health.  The twelve thousand children in the study are the first of the screen time generation.  Their births were announced on social media.

 Their first memories of screens were in the home. They are fully digitally immersed. While parents await results of this study, there are some things that can be done:

 1. Make family time a no-screen time. Make mealtime and family gatherings screen-free. A no-screens-at-meals rule encourages everyone to make eye contact—instead of looking at phones—and to talk to one another.

2. Keep the bedroom screen-free. Do not allow a cell phone, computer, or television in your child’s bedroom.  Digital devices can disrupt sleep, isolate children from the rest of the family, and increase screen usage time.

 3. Set a good example. Parents should be good role models and set limits on their own screen times. This greatly influences a child’s screen use.

 4. Get children involved in other activities. Physical activity is very important for everyone, especially children. It is extremely helpful in preventing mental health problems. Music and arts participation are other choices.

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