Capital Magazine | Do the screens really affect children?


Before the generation, parents were worried about the effects of watching television; before that he worked. There is now an alarming exposure to screens, a time when children, especially young people and teenagers, communicate with TVs, computers, smartphones, digital tablets and video games.

This is an important age group, as interaction with screens is drastically increased during youth, and because brain development is also accelerating during this period; Neural networks are defined and consolidated during the transition to adulthood.

The ABCD study (cognitive development of adolescent brain brain or cognitive development of the young brain) is a $ 300 million project funded by NIHs, which wants to disclose, as many factors affect the development of the brain, including the use of substances, bruises and time before the screens. A recent report that is part of the study reported that spending a lot of time with the help of the screen is associated with lower results in the ability tests and natural processes of "corticolus dilution" in some children. However, the data are preliminary and it is not clear whether the effects are permanent or even important.

Does drug addiction change your brain?

Yes, but the same goes for any other activity performed by children, and some of their contexts: sleep, homework, playing football, debating, growing up in poverty, reading or pairing or smoking. In the young minds, it is constantly changing or "re-connecting" in day-to-day activities, and that the adjustment continues until the first half of the 20th century.

Scientists want to know if there is a time limit on screens that cause measurable differences in the structure or brain functions of adolescents and if they are important. Do they cause a lack of attention, problems with mood or reading delays, or their ability to solve problems?

Are these differences already identified?

Not convincing. More than a hundred reports and scientific analyzes examined the relationship between the mode of use of the screen and the well-being of young people, the search for emotional or behavioral differences, and the changing attitudes related to aspects such as the body image. In 2014, at Queen's University in Belfast, 43 of these 100 studies were examined by scientists; those they consider to be better conceived.

In meta-analysis, it has been found that social networks allow people to increase their circle of social contacts in ways that could be positive and negative, for example, to expose young people to aggressive content. However, the authors estimated that "there was not enough solid causal research on the impact of social networks on the mental well-being of young people".

Summary: The results were diverse and sometimes contradictory.

Psychologists also studied whether playing violent video games is associated with aggressive behavior. More than two hundred studies of this type were carried out; Some links have been found in others and not in others. One of the challenges in studying this and other aspects of exposure to screens is to determine the direction of causality: are children who play a lot of violent video games become more aggressive or appealing with this type of content because they were more aggressive from the beginning?

Even if scientists find solid evidence of a measurable effect – for example, linking three hours a day to the screens with a greater risk of diagnosing hyperactivity disorder in a lack of attention – such a link would not necessarily mean that they are consistent and measurable in the brain structure.

Individual changes are the rule of brain development. The size of specific brain regions, such as the prefrontal cortex, the degree to which these regions consolidate their neural networks, and the changes in these parameters between individuals and individuals, make it difficult to interpret certain findings. Scientists must have a lot of research subjects and a better understanding of the brain.

Study ABCD, is not it just for this?

Yes. The longitudinal study expects that with adolescents with annual MRI studies, it will monitor 11,800 children and determine whether changes in the brain are related to behavior or health. The study began in 2013 with twenty-one academic research centers; For the first time, he focused on the effects of drug use and alcohol consumption in the young minds. The project has expanded and now includes other topics, such as the effects of brain damage, exposure to screens, genetics and the nature of "various environmental factors".

The recently published article gives an early preview of the expected results. A research team based at the University of California, San Diego, has analyzed brain scans of more than 4,500 people and linked them to the amount of time children spent on screens (time reported by the same children in questionnaires) as well as their assessments in tests of language and intellect.

The findings were varied. Some children who said they spent a lot of time in front of the screens showed that cortical thinning was in the younger age than expected; But this dilution is part of the natural ripening of the grain, but scientists do not know what the difference is. Some children who said they had spent a lot of time before the tests before the tests, which were reached under the curve, while the others felt good.

It is difficult to verify the accuracy of time in front of the screen, since it was self-helpful. In addition, the relationship between small differences in the brain structure and the way people behave is even more ambiguous. It is very difficult to obtain clear conclusions, and this situation is complicated by the fact that the use of brain scanning is only a temporary capture: within one year, some observed links may change.

"The diversity of results is an important message of public health: interaction with screens is not only harmful to the brain or brain-related activity," the authors of the study concluded.

In other words, the measured effects may be good or, more likely, they are not relevant at all until they have proven otherwise.

But hearing the screen does not hurt?

It's probably so bad and good for the brain, depending on the individual and their usage habits. Many people who are socially isolated – either because of abuse, personal eccentricity or developmental disorders, such as Asperger's syndrome – establish social networks through their screens that they personally could not find.

Separation of the negative and positive consequences of the physical development of the brain will be very difficult considering the many factors that are potentially at risk: the effects of using marijuana, alcohol, electronic cigarettes, genetic differences, home or school changes, to the emotional storm that comes with adolescence.

Most parents may already be aware of the biggest shortcomings of time in front of the screens: the degree to which other child experiences can be shifted, including sleeping, climbing fencing, playing outside or in difficulty. Although many parents – perhaps the majority – certainly saw some hours of television the day they were young. Maybe your experiences are more like what you think to your children.

Source: New York Times


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