Scientists confirm the fear many parents have: screens do indeed have an effect on children’s brains. The hours spent in front of smartphones, tablets and other video games physically change the brain of the little ones. This is the conclusion of a large study, conducted by the National Institute of Health in the United States.
First to suffer from this prolonged exposure: the cortex, which is the cerebral bark that processes information sent to the brain by the five senses. After observing the brain of 11,874 children between the ages of 9 and 10, scientists noted a thinning of this area. Furthermore, a thinner cortex is ‘seen as an ageing process,’ notes Dr Gaya Dowling, director of the Institute.
Thinning of the cortex
According to scientists, the effect on the cerebral cortex would be visible in children spending 7 hours a day in front of screens. But those who consume more than two hours daily also showed lower results than others in thinking and language tests.
‘We do not know if it's caused by the time spent in front of the screens. We do not know if it's a bad thing. It's only by monitoring the children over time that we'll see if these differences have consequences,’ says the scientist.
For the rest of their study, the researchers intend to prove this correlation but also to establish the addictive effect that a smartphone can have. Other more detailed data will be shared by the National Institute of Health in 2019.