From National Public Radio:
There’s new evidence that excessive screen time early in life can change the circuits in a growing brain.
Scientists disagree, though, about whether those changes are helpful, or just cause problems. Both views emerged during the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego this week.
The debate centered on a study of young mice exposed to six hours daily of a sound and light show reminiscent of a video game. The mice showed “dramatic changes everywhere in the brain,” said Jan-Marino Ramirez, director of the Center for Integrative Brain Research at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
“Many of those changes suggest that you have a brain that is wired up at a much more baseline excited level,” Ramirez reported. “You need much more sensory stimulation to get [the brain’s] attention.”
So is that a problem?
On the plus side, it meant that these mice were able to stay calm in an environment that would have stressed out a typical mouse, Ramirez explained. But it also meant they acted like they had an attention deficit disorder, showed signs of learning problems, and were prone to risky behavior.
. . . .
The debate came just weeks after the American Academy of Pediatrics relaxed its longstanding rule against any screen time for kids under two. And it reflected an evolution in our understanding of how sensory stimulation affects developing brains.
Researchers learned many decades ago that young brains need a lot of stimulation to develop normally. So, for a long time parents were encouraged to give kids as many sensory experiences as possible.
“The idea was, basically, the more you are exposed to sensory stimulation, the better you are cognitively,” Ramirez said.
Then studies began to suggest that children who spent too much time watching TV or playing video games were more likely to develop ADHD.
Link to the rest at NPR