BOSTON (CBS) – Kids are using electronic devices at a rapidly increasing pace, but at what cost? The National Institutes of Health is embarking on the most ambitious study to examine the screen time behaviors and outcomes of 11,000 9 and 10-year olds over the next 10 years, and some early results are already in.
Researchers have found that kids who spend more than two hours a day on screens scored lower on thought and language tests than those who spent less time on smartphones and other electronic devices.
They also found significant physical changes in the brains of those who spend more than seven hours a day using devices. It is unclear what the significance of this is, and researchers may not know the impact for years to come.
In the meantime, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you avoid using devices with children under 18 to 24 months of age, unless video chatting. They say if you think your teen is addicted to their devices, your infant is much more vulnerable. Children between the ages of 2 and 5 should not use devices with screens for more than one hour a day.
For older children, set limits. Kids need them and expect them. Watch or play with your children to encourage social interaction and to monitor what they are doing. The AAP say it is okay for your teen to be online, but you should talk to them about appropriate behavior on social media. Establish tech-free zones, like the kitchen table or kids’ bedrooms. Be a good role model yourself and monitor your own device use. As psychologist Jean Twenge says, “[A device] should be a tool that you use, not a tool that uses you.”