By B.N. Frank
Activist Post published an article yesterday about the recent CBS 60 Minutes segment covering a $300M federal study being conducted to find out how screen use is affecting American kids’ brains. Two researchers who were interviewed both referred to kids and screen use as an “uncontrolled experiment.” That sounds accurate albeit disturbing.
Of course, research, studies, and experiments – both formal and informal – have already been done on kids regarding screen use and exposure. None of them have had positive results. Some have been downright horrifying.
Other recent reports about kids and screen use are upsetting as well. So it’s not really surprising that for many years already Silicon Valley parents have limited their own kids’ use and exposure to screens. Recently their efforts have become more desperate and extreme (i.e. spying on their nannies). But hey – what’s $300M to really make sure all American kids shouldn’t spend much time using or being exposed to screens, right?
Included with the segment is a 60 Minutes “Extra” – Phones, tablets, and their impact on kids’ brains. Excerpts include:
In the video at the top of the page, Dr. Christakis tells Anderson Cooper that toddlers are increasingly using mobile devices to self-soothe, rather than learning to do that on their own. He warned that interaction with a parent or caregiver is being replaced by technology, and his guidance for parents is simple: Toddlers “need laps more than apps.”
Our questions about the impact of screen time on kids’ brains coincided last spring with the beginning of the largest government study ever attempted of adolescent brain development. The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study will follow more than 10,000 kids. Dr. Gaya Dowling of the National Institutes of Health explained that project was initially looking at the impacts of alcohol, drugs, sleep patterns and sports injuries might have.
“I think the screen time component really came into play because we were wondering, what is the impact?” Dowling said. “I mean, clearly kids spend so much time on screens. And they’re very engaging, very interactive. The likelihood that they have an impact on brain, and cognition, and social development is pretty high.”
The NIH researchers allowed us to visit test centers in California and Maryland as they began their first MRIs and interviews with nine and 10 year olds. We were all surprised when results from the scans of 4,500 participants showed evidence of differences in the brains of some of the heaviest users of electronic devices.
“We have these snapshots of their brains now. And then we’ll be able to see as they escalate their use, and they come back and get their brain scanned again, whether there have been changes,” Dowling said. “And when you’ve got 12,000 kids, you can then control for a lot of things. So in order to figure out if it’s really screen time that’s causing it, you can look at kids who spend a lot of time on screens, versus kids who don’t, kids who spend a lot of time on screen, and participate in sports, versus kids who spend a lot of time on screens, and don’t. So you can tease apart some of the impacts on what you’re seeing in terms of outcomes in the brain.”
The information provided by the ABCD study has also already revealed that kids who spend two hours a day or more on screens scored lower on memory and language tests.
The segment wraps up by mentioning that more discoveries are expected over time. Of course, this requires them taking more scans of kids’ brains which doesn’t seem harmless to kids and their brains either. In the meantime, Silicon Valley parents will likely still go to extreme measures to prevent their kids from using and being exposed to screens. Wouldn’t it be nice if other parents did the same thing – especially since decades of research has also already determined that exposure to cell phone and wireless WiFi radiation causes a bunch of other brain health issues as well as cancer.
For more information, visit the following websites:
- Wireless Information Network
- Americans for Responsible Technology
- Center For Safer Wireless
- Center For Electrosmog Prevention
- Citizens for Safe Technology
- Clear Light Ventures
- Electromagnetic Health
- Environmental Health Trust
- Generation Zapped
- National Association for Children and Safe Technology
- Parents for Safe Technology