The impact of screens on our very youngest


Today, we can’t avoid exposing our children to screens, and this exposure is happening at younger and younger ages. Make no mistake, though: this new lifestyle trend is having an impact on their development. One recent study1 has even reported observing effects on the cerebral cortex of their very youngest participants…

Children exposed to screens at an early age are found to have a prematurely reduced cerebral cortex, according to the preliminary conclusions of researchers at the National Institutes of Health. This decrease is like a type of aging, yet it is unclear whether it is harmful or not.

Nevertheless, this study shows that children who spend over two hours a day in front of screens perform less well in tests evaluating memory and language, and we know that the cerebral cortex is where the complex processes of language, memory, reasoning, consciousness, and movement control happen.

Another interesting finding was that screen usage like adolescents using smartphones caused dopamine release. This suggests that it could actually be addictive. In conclusion, the author of the study recommends not exposing children to screens until they are three years old to give them the time to develop skills that are essential for their lives, such as language communication in the real world.

1 JAMA Pediatrics. Associations Between Screen-Based Media Use and Brain White Matter Integrity in Preschool-Aged Children. John S. Hutton, MS, MD1,2; Jonathan Dudley, PhD2,3; Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus, PhD1,2,3,4; et al. November 4, 2019.