According to a review that spans 23 years and 33 neuroimaging studies, this time causes changes in the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain responsible for functions such as working memory and adaptive response in different situations.
Research highlights that children under 12 who use tablets tend to have worse brain function and less problem-solving ability. Furthermore, video games and heavy Internet use have shown a link to adverse changes in brain regions that affect intelligence quotients and brain volume in four separate studies.
However, the study also suggests that playing video games can increase cognitive demands, thus possibly improving children’s executive functions and cognitive abilities.
While the researchers do not explicitly endorse restrictions on screen time, they call on policymakers to support initiatives that promote positive brain development. However, it is also important to remember that the World Health Organization (WHO) included video game disorders in the international statistical classification of diseases and health-related problems, describing it as a lack of “increasing control” over a 12-month period, in which negative consequences such as lack of sleep, irritability or exclusion from other daily activities are recorded.
“Both educators and caregivers should recognize that children’s cognitive development can be influenced by their digital experiences,” says Hui Li, Full Professor at the Hong Kong University of Education, in a press release. “Limiting the time young people spend in front of screens is an effective but challenging way, and more innovative, user-friendly and practical strategies could be developed and implemented.”
Researchers emphasize that policymakers must offer adequate guidance and support for children’s digital engagement. The findings also reveal that the time spent in front of screens influences the parietal lobe – involved in sensory processing; the temporal lobe – crucial for memory, hearing and language; and the occipital lobe – an integral part of visual interpretation.
The research aimed to understand how digital activity affects brain plasticity during vital stages of development. Previous studies have established that visual development predominantly occurs before the age of eight, while the primary period for language learning extends until the age of 12.
Reviewing the literature from January 2000 to April 2023, researchers examined studies on the digital habits of children as young as six months of age and their impact on brain development. The document ends with an urgent call to action for policymakers to base decisions on these findings to support evidence-based practices for educators and parents.
“Firstly, both educators and caregivers must recognize that children’s cognitive development can be influenced by their digital experiences,” says Dandan Wu, also from the Hong Kong University of Education. “As such, they should provide appropriate guidance, engagement and support for children’s digital use. This could involve offering resources and incentives for the creation and analysis of digital interventions designed to enhance brain growth in children.”
The study was published in Early Education and Development Journal.
This news article has been translated from the original language to English by WorldsNewsNow.com.
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