Researchers this week have found "different patterns" in brain scans among children have recorded heavy smart device and video game use that's according to initial data from a major ongoing US study by the National Institute of Health.
The first group of information shows that 9 and 10-year-old kids spending more than 7 hours per day using such patterns show signs of premature thinning of the cortex, the brain's outermost layer which processes sensory information. The research is said to have cost in the region of US$300 million.
"We don't know if it's being caused by the screen time. We don't know yet if it's a bad thing. What we can say is that this is what the brains look like of kids who spend a lot of time on screens. And it's not just one pattern,"
Gaya Dowling, An NIH doctor working on the project.
The data reported on CBS showed that kids who are spending more than 2 hours per day on screens score worse on language and reasoning tests. The study scanned 4,500 children's brain, aiming to show whether screen time is addictive or not, however, researchers need several years to understand such long-term outcomes due recent updates in screen technology.
"In many ways, the concern that investigators like I have is, that we're sort of in the midst of a natural kind of uncontrolled experiment on the next generation of children," Dimitri Christakis, a lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics' most recent guidelines on screen time, told 60 Minutes.
The initial data from the study will begin to be released in early 2019. The Academy of Pediatrics' now recommends parents "avoid digital media use - except video chatting - in children younger than 18 to 24 months."
The study has already led to Kuwait's attorney general calling for strict guidelines to ensure that children are adequately protected from potential dangers particularly with social media. Chief among the new guidelines is introducing age restrictions requiring social media users to be at least 13 years of age according to justice ministry Dharar Al-Asousi yesterday.