General, Research, Technology

How gadgets affect the brain of children

Very often, various resources raisethe impact of gadgets on young children. However, a group of American scientists decided to check whether this is true. The study, published in the JAMA Pediatrics publication, is based not only on statistics, but also on the results of an MRI scan of the brain. And it seems that the data obtained, indeed confirm the fact that gadgets have an effect on the children's brain.

Do gadgets affect kids?

How gadgets affect a child

For their research, scientists selected 47 children inages 3 to 5 years who passed the test to measure their cognitive abilities, and their parents were asked to answer a number of questions about the habits of children when using smartphones and tablets. The questions were of the following nature: “How often do children use gadgets?”, “What type of content do they watch?”, “Do adults watch what the child does with the gadget?”. All children participating in the experiment also had a brain scan using MRI.

See also: How does bullying in school affect a child’s brain?

As a result, the scan showed that the children who spent more time in front of the gadget screens had what the authors call lower “white matter integrity”.

White matter can be roughly imaginedas an internal communication network of the brain. Its long nerve fibers are covered in a kind of “isolation” that allows electrical signals to move from one area of ​​the brain to another without interruption. - say the researchers. The integrity of this structure is how well organized the nerve fibers are, and how well developed is the membrane associated with cognitive abilities. In particular, it develops when children learn to speak.

Lead author John Hatton from Children's HospitalCincinnati said there is a clear link between the more frequent use of gadgets and the lower “white matter integrity” in children participating in the experiment. This structural change, apparently, was reflected in the results of the cognitive test, which the children also passed. The test showed a connection between the high use of gadgets and the low level of language and grammar skills.

It is completely not clear exactly how the time of work withGadgets cause changes in brain development, and there are many factors that can explain the connection we found, ”says Lauren Bray, a doctor at Calgary University.

Dr. Bray conducted an MRI scan on anothergroup of children and noticed that the more time a child spends using gadgets, the more symptoms of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) appear. But this study also suggests that symptoms may be the very reason that children spend time in front of the screens of smartphones and tablets. However, there is a certain connection in this that remains to be seen. And what do you think, how much time can a child spend alone with gadgets? Write about it in our chat in Telegram.

It’s hard to say what the “safe” age of using gadgets is. We would not advise to accustom the child to them at least until the age of three. - summed up the scientists.

Next steps experts planundertake, concern a more complete study of the picture of the impact of gadgets on young children and finding clearer relationships in what changes can occur with the children's brain. Also, experts are aimed at developing a number of recommendations on the use of gadgets by children for parents and preschool institutions.