Thursday , December 3 2020

Capital Magazine | Do the screens really hurt children?



A generation ago, parents were concerned about the effects of watching TV; before that, was the radio. Now, the concern is open to screens, how much time children – especially pubs and teenagers – interact with television, computers, smartphones, digital tablets and video games.

An important age group is because the interaction with screens increases significantly during adolescents and because the development of the brain also accelerates that age; Nuclear networks are defined and combined during transition to adulthood.

The ABCD study (Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development, or cognitive development of the adolescent brain) is a $ 300 million funded National Health Organization (NIH) project that aims to illustrate the number of factors that affect development & 39; r, including the use of substances, bruises and time in front of the screens. A recent report that part of the study noted that spending a lot of time using screens associated with lower scores on talent tests and the natural process of "cortical thinning" in some children. However, the data is preliminary and is not clear if the effects for or even are significant.

Is the dependency of the screens changing the brain?

Yes, but the same thing happens with any other activity that is practiced by children and many contexts: sleeping, homework, playing soccer, talking, growing up in poverty, reading or evaporation or smoke. The adolescent brain is constantly changing, or "re-joined," in response to daily activities, and that adaptation lasts until the first half of their 20s.

What scientists want to know is whether there is a deadline on screens that can cause measurable differences in terms of the structure or brain of adolescents, and if they are significant. Do they cause a lack of attention, mood problems or a delay in reading or their ability to solve problems?

Have any differences of this type already been found?

Not convincing. More than one hundred scientific reports and analyzes have studied the relationship between the use of screens and wellbeing of young people, looking for emotional or behavioral differences, as well as attitude changes that relate to aspects such as image the body. In 2014, scientists at Queen's University in Belfast 43 of those 100 studies reviewed; Those that were considered better planned.

In a meta-analysis, the conclusion was found that social networks allow people to increase their circle of social contacts in ways that could be positive and negative, for example, in highlighting the involvement of young people to become aggressive. However, the author's review concluded that "insufficient research was causing a strong cause for the impact of social networks on the mental wellbeing of young people".

In summary: the results have been variable and, at times, are contrary.

Psychologists have also investigated whether playing violent video games is associated with aggressive behavior. More than two hundred studies of this type have been hosted; In some, links were found and in others no. A challenge while studying this and other aspects of exposure to screens is to identify a causality direction: do children who play many violent video games become more aggressive as a result, or have been attracted to the type that content because they are more aggressive from the start?

Even if scientists found sound evidence of measurable impact – for example, that there were three hours a day on higher risk-related screens diagnosed with a lack of attention of hyperactivity disorder – there would be no such connection of necessity means that there is consistency and measurable in the structure of the brain.

Individual variation is a rule of brain development. The size of specific brain regions such as the prefrontal cortex, the rate these regions reinforce their nuclear networks and the variations of these parameters between one individual and another make it difficult right interpretation of some findings. Scientists need to have a lot of better research and understanding topics of the brain.

ABCD study, that's not just the only thing?

Yes. Longitudinal research expects 11,800 children to go through the juice, with annual MRI studies, to see if brain changes are related to behavior or health. The study began in 2013 with twenty twenty academic research centers; The initial focus was on the effects of drugs and alcohol in the young brain. The project has expanded and it now includes other topics, such as the effects of brain injuries, screen exposure, genetics and a series of "diverse environmental factors".

The recently published article gives an early insight into the predicted results. A research team, based at the University of California, San Diego campus, analyzed brain exams of more than 4,500 adolescent people and correlated with how much time children spend in front of the screens (time reported by the one children in questionnaires), as well as their scores in language tests and intelligence.

The perceptions were variable. There were some children who said they were spending a lot of time ahead of the screens showing cortical thinning in younger than expected ages; But that thinning is also part of the natural maturity of the brain, and scientists do not know what difference it means. Some children said they spent a lot of time in front of the screens scored under the curve in the ability tests, while others performed well.

It is hard to check the accuracy of the time ahead of the screens, as it is self-reported. In addition, the relationship between small differences in the structure of the brain and the way people behave more ambiguous. Clear conclusions are very difficult and this situation is complex because it is only temporary to use a brain scan: within one year, some of the relationships observed could be reversed.

"The range of results gives an important message to public health: that the interaction with screens is not harmful to the brain alone or to a related operation. brain, "the authors came to an end.

In other words, the measured effects may be good or, more likely, may not be significant at all, until other investigations prove otherwise.

But does the screen attachment do no harm?

Both are likely to be poor and good for the brain, depending on the individual and the habits that are used on the screen. Many people who are isolated socially – whether due to abuse, personal ease or developmental differences, such as Asperger's syndrome – set up social networks through their screens that they can not find in person.

Separation of the negative and positive results in the physical development of the brain will be very difficult, given the number of potentially at risk factors: of the effects of marijuana use, alcohol, electronic cigarettes, genetic differences, changes in home or school to the entire emotional storm that brings babies.

Most parents may already be aware of the greatest disadvantage of time in front of screens: to the extent that they can replace other childhood experiences, including sleeping, climbing fences, playing outside or going to trouble Although many parents – most may – certainly see several hours of television a day when they were young. Your experiences may be more likely than what you think of your children's children.

Source: The New York Times


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