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Kelsey Zehring

Professor William Loudermilk

English 1201

7 April 2019

How Screen Time Affects Children and Young Adult’s Brains

How does too much screen time affect the brains of children? Can these effects

lead to dangerous health concerns? Screen time can have many effects on young

children causing them to have health issues and can lead to problems in their future.

The amount a child should spend on technology a day should be controlled.

Researchers have found several speech disorders on brain scans. It is important to be

cautious when children are using technology and what they are using it for to prevent

the dangerous health concerns.

I have a story to start off my research. My friend who is a junior in high school

decided to give up her social media for a week. She wanted to clean herself and be a

happier person. She said that she wanted to be cleaner because the things she saw on

social media were getting her down by seeing what other people would post about

themselves. She told me that she saw a difference and felt a lot better after doing it.

She said she felt like a negative person because of all the stuff she saw on social media

that let her down. She also saw that since she updated her iPhone to the iOS 12 update

to the new section Screen Time, was very high and she wanted to bring that down and

be more incontrol of what she needed to prioritize. After she completed this she noticed

that it was not that bad taking a break and now she is only on social media a few times
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a day instead of all the time and has improved her grades and feels like a better person.

She said she will continue to keep doing this every so often to clean herself.

The time exposed to a screen for children has gotten to be very unhealthy. The

average time a kid spends looking at a screen per day is six hours. The brain gets used

to this type of stimulation, and overtime the children get less interested in the

experiences that are not stimulating : toys, books, following along with teacher, sports,

etc. Each child should have a daily limited time for how many hours they should be

looking at a screen. The exposure of screen time has caused interference with skill-

building. It has also affected many children with self-regulatory skills. Children have

been distracted from school and sports and need to be more focused on the important

things in life. There are many more downfalls to this issue that have made kids have

very unhealthy habits.

Even though parents may think that it is relaxing their kids, the child’s body is not

active when watching screens, the brain is absorbing intense, fast moving stimulation

via the eyes and ears. The brain gets used to this type of stimulation, and overtime the

children get less interested in the experiences that are not stimulating : toys, books,

following along with teacher, sports, etc. The amount of screen time before bed can also

affect the quality of sleep or even the ability to fall asleep. Screen time should be

controlled in order to reduce the amount of brain damage a child may develop.
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Brain scans have shown atrophy (shrinking or loss of tissue volume) in grey

areas where “processing” occurs in internet/gaming addiction. The brain scans have

also found loss of integrity to the brain’s white matter. “ “Spotty” white matter translates

into loss of communication within the brain, including connections to and from various

lobes of the same hemisphere, links between the right and left hemispheres, and paths

between higher (cognitive) and lower (emotional and survival) brain centers” (Dunckley).

Having interrupted connections to the brain may slow down the signals. Researchers

have also found that video games have shown dopamine which is released when

playing. When this happens it is showing a craving that urges for gaming and produces

brain changes that are similar to drug cravings. Damaging your brain by looking at a

screen, can be controlled very easily by just taking the time to reduce the amount of

hours spent in front of it.

A number of studies connected delayed cognitive development in kids with

extended exposure to electronic devices. “When very small children get hooked on

tablets and smartphones, says Dr. Aric Sigman, an associate fellow of the British

Psychological Society and a Fellow of Britain’s Royal Society of Medicine, they can

unintentionally cause permanent damage to their still-developing brains” (Margalit).

Having to much screen time too early because parents are eager to teach their children

vocabulary can actually be doing more harm than good. Between birth and the age of

three babies brains are still developing. When a young child is growing during these

years it is called the critical period which is when the brain needs specific stimuli from

the outside environment. “When a young child spends too much time in front of a screen
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and not enough getting required stimuli from the real world, her development becomes

stunted” (Margalit). If the damage happens during these early years the results can be

affected forever.

The issue children have playing on phones, video games, tablets, etc. is the way

they act after putting the device down. They tend to be grumpy and have an attitude.

“Another study reported that family time was not affected when technology was used for

school, but did hurt family communications when used for social reasons” (Taylor

Ph.D.). Because of the lack of respect these children have toward their parents, children

may be unwilling to listen to their parents’ attempt to try and control the use of

technology.

Several researchers have found studies and the percentages are very high on

how many time a day people check their phones and get distracted. “A survey of 13- to

17-year-olds released this fall by the nonprofit Common Sense Media found that 95

percent of U.S. teens have their own mobile device” (Irvine). “National Institutes of

Health...shows that kids who spent more than two hours per day on screens scored

lower on language and thinking tests” (Johnson). This information is telling us that the

time spent on technology is way too long and it could be time spent doing something

productive that does not cause brain damage.

In addition to screen time affecting kids brains it can also make them obese.

When children sit around all day on their phones or video games and have no physical

activity it can hurt their health. The many possible mechanisms thought to lead to
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obesity are, “ displacing physical activity, increasing energy intake from eating while

viewing and/or the effects of advertising, and reducing sleep” (Robinson). The research

has found that these mechanisms are very hurtful on a young kids body because they

are still growing and need the proper nutrition. “Epidemiologic studies reveal that

children who consume more screen media also consume fewer fruits and vegetables

and more energy-dense snacks, energy-dense drinks and fast food, receive a higher

percentage of their energy from fats, and have a higher total energy intake” (Robinson).

Eating while gaming is one way that children increase their energy intake. Children take

in a big proportion of their calorie intake by screen watching.

On the reverse side many people do not think about all the health problems

screen time can cause. Parents think that kids can find it informing. The kids that are

into a certain sport tend to watch videos about it. For example, “ Once, I found my

daughter watching videos about pregnant parents. She said, ‘I really love babies. I just

want to see babies being born” (The Guardian). It’s easy for technology to take over, so

trying to manage that and sure kids aren’t all red-faced and anxious. Technology can be

used for many good things including school work, researching information, and using in

for communication. The amount of screen time needs to be limited to ensure for healthy

successful kids in the future.

The parents that see the good in having screen time can be bad in their

children’s future. The long term effects are harsh. Parents use technology to help their

kids progress in vocabulary and other simple learning habits. “Today’s preschoolers
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spend more than four hours a day facing a screen” (Christakis). Parents can understand

that there is a side to technology that can be good like using it for learning habits.

People can also see that it can be helpful for looking up simple information and reading

educational articles.

The issue with too much screen time is becoming a major problem on young

kids. It can be an easy fix as long as the parents get involved and help control the

amount of time spent on technology. Another fix to this can be putting a time limit on

when children should stop playing on video game, phones, tablets, etc. before bed.

Playing on devices before bed can mess with their sleeping habits. When young

children are on tablets the parent should be by their side and keeping an eye on how

long they are on it for. This issue can be a fast fix as long as there are time limits put on

the devices.

In conclusion to limiting screen time and how it can affect your brain can have

many effects on young children causing them to have health issues and can lead to

problems in their future. To help prevent these issues it can be all fixed by doing a little

bit of research to look at the data researchers have collected to realize how it is hurting

parents’ children so severely. Screen time and damaging your brains is a silly thing to

be doing. Being on a screen for too much time causes our children to grow up and be a

different person than parents have raised them to be.

I was inspired to write about this topic because I see young children all day and I

have also been around people who have been affected by these concerning health
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issues. Writing and researching about this has had me understand the severe health

concerns about it. Screen time is important to me because I see kids everyday that are

very addicted to their phone, xbox, playstation, ipod, etc. It is very bad for the brain and

many kids change moods and become cruel because they are used to screaming at the

TV all day at their friends. It can change people to be a very different person. I wanted

to write about this because I see this in my everyday life and I thought it would be good

to inform those who do play how it affects them. Young children are affected by this

more than young teenagers so for the people I see it usually affects the way they act.

People should be able to control it themselves and realize when too much is enough.

Once more people realize it is affecting their children, they will take advantage of the

data that has been proven to prevent too much screen time. It will become a rule in

family household to keep their children healthy and have a successful future.
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Works Cited
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Carey, Benedict. “Is Screen Time Bad for Kids’ Brains?” 10 Dec. 2018.

Carter, Christine. “Is Screen Time Toxic for Teenagers?” Greater Good, 27 Aug.

2018,

greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/is_screen_time_toxic_for_teenager

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Dunckley, Victoria L. “Gray Matters: Too Much Screen Time Damages the Brain.”

Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 2014,

ww.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mental-wealth/201402/gray-matters-

too-much-screen-time-damages-the-brain.

Fortt, John. “Kids and Screen Time: What’s Healthy.” 31 Oct. 2018.

Guernsey, Lisa. “Screen Time : How Electronic Media-from Baby Videos to

Educational Software-Affects Your Young Child / Lisa Guernsey.” 2012.

Johnson, Stephen. “How Does Screen Time Affect Kids' Brains? The First Results

of a Landmark Study Are Alarming.” Big Think, Big Think, 10 Dec. 2018,

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on Children and Adolescents: Literature Review and Case Study.”

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doi:10.1016/j.envres.2018.01.015.

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Margalit, Liraz. “What Screen Time Can Really Do to Kids' Brains.” Psychology

Today, Sussex Publishers, 2016,

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“Screen Time Affects Child's Speech.” Clip Syndicate Video: Cengage Broadcast,

CriticalMention, Inc., 2017,

www.clipsyndicate.com/video/playlist/10833/6917687?cpt=8wpid.

Irvine, Martha. “Limiting Screen Time for Your Kid? It's Harder than It Looks.”

Philadelphia Tribune, 2018, pp. 2B–2B.

Christakis, Erika. “The Dangers of Distracted Parenting.” The Atlantic, Atlantic

Media Company, 16 June 2018,

www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/07/the-dangers-of-

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Robinson, Thomas N. “Screen Media Exposure and Obesity in Children and

Adolescents.” US National Library of Medicine, 2018.