Oct 15, 2019

Boy laying on bed at night under a blanket using smartphone

Could screen time actually be beneficial to your child’s cognitive development? It was once theorized that the more stimulation on the child’s developing brain the better. Of course, this theory was suggested prior to the onset of phones, tablets, and social media!

Is the human brain designed to withstand the exposure to screen time that we’re seeing in today’s youth? Many would argue no. Studies have suggested that excessive screen time is associated with increased hyperactivity, increased tendency towards risky behavior, obesity and delayed language development.

Innovation of the Human Brain

Recent research out of the University of California asked the question, “has the human brain evolved along with our growing technologically advanced culture?”. A 2012 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that more than half of the internet experts interviewed predicted the brains of teens and young adults will be wired differently, and yield positive outcomes, by 2020. Some of the predictions include the following:

  • They’ll be better able to multitask with less distraction than the older generation.
  • They’ll be better able to find answers quickly. This will be a function of their access to and ability to search effectively and access information online.

So, like so many parental decisions, you need to know your child. Be well informed with recommendations from your pediatrician and trusted family and friends. And also be well informed on how your child responds to screen time. What’s good for one child may not be good for another. Consider using parental control software to set limits on the amount of screen time and type of content your child can access. Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself to assess how your child is responding to screen time:

  • Are there any behavior changes following screen time?
  • Has exposure to screen time prompted arguments in the household?
  • Has screen time prevented your child from engaging with their friends, completing their homework, attending school?
  • Have you noticed a change in risky behavior or sensitivity to stimuli associated with the amount of screen time?

As with most things in our life, moderation is key when it comes to screen time consumption by both adults and children. Use your best judgment on when your child needs to unplug and take a break from technology.

Annemarie Lange

Annemarie Lange is a licensed professional counselor in the Philadelphia area that utilizes mindfulness and meditation to help her clients deal with a variety of challenges.