Brain Changes in Today’s Children
Written by Alfonso Elizondo
According to a preliminary report from America’s National Institutes of Health (NIH), children who spend more than two hours a day in front of digital devices have terrible scores on linguistic intelligence tests.
The study on the Cognitive Development of the Brain in Adolescents, the first results of which will be published in early 2019, involves 11,874 children between ages 9 and 10, including 2,100 twins and triplets. They will all be studied in 21 Research Centers throughout the US until they are adults.
Although they cannot yet be fully evaluated because of a lack of data, a premature thinning of the cerebral cortex has been detected in children who spend more hours a day in front of a screen, compared to their peers who are not exposed to digital leisure. The cortex is the outermost layer of the brain involved in sensory reception and is responsible for higher-order functions that make us human.
At first sight, this premature thinning is another cause for concern, but hasty conclusions should not be drawn from this finding because the correlation does not imply causality and could well be due to another reason.
The director of this study, Gaya Dowling says we should remember that the thinning of the cerebral cortex is usually associated with a brain that is more mature than that of the children studied, so we don’t know its real effect on the brain of children.
According to Gaya Dowling, the natural experiment is not yet controlled, and as long as the American Academy of Pediatrics has not reached the final conclusion, she recommends that children under the age of two avoid watching digital media completely.
Addendum: It will be of vital importance for the immediate future to know the early results of these biological and neurological studies in order to have an idea of what will happen with the new generations that will come after the adolescents of Generation Z.