The brain function of children is being negatively impacted by their extended use of smartphones and tablets.
Research funded by the National Institute of Health finds children using screens seven or more hours a day are showing signs of premature thinning of the brain cortex.
“The cortex is the part of the brain where information gets processed,” said Leigh Richardson - a licensed professional counselor and founder of the Brain Performance Center in Dallas. “When you look at the brain more holistically, the frontal lobe is the part of the brain where we stay on task and pay attention. That’s our executive center.”
Premature thinning is putting children at risk of deteriorating memory function, perception skills and cognitive abilities. The dangers exist into early adulthood.
“The brain is not fully developed until the mid to late-twenties,” Richardson explained. “Until it’s fully developed, it’s not using all of its resources.”
The research also finds children with more than two hours of daily screen time score lower on thinking and language tests.
“If you’re making it harder to process that early on, and you don’t have those frontal lobes to kick in and help you, that’s a huge concern,” Richardson added.
There is some good news. Richards says neurofeedback procedures can be used to regulate the brain - allowing for improvements if screen time is limited.