Study results unclear on screen time’s impact on children’s brains

A recent piece in the New York Times analyzed early results of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study covered during CBS’s “60 Minutes” which associated increased screen usage with lower scores on aptitude tests and further brain processes.

The paper covered by “60 Minutes” was based on University of California, San Diego researchers who analyzed brain scans of more than 4,500 preteens and correlated those with children’s screen time, along with language and thinking test scores. They found some exhibited cortical thinning at earlier ages, but that process is natural as the brain ages, according to the Times. Some heavy screen users scored lower on aptitude tests, some better.

“This diversity of findings provides an important public health message, that screen media activity is not simply bad for the brain or bad for brain- related functioning,” the authors of the study concluded, according to the report.

Overall, the results left scientist uncertain. Given that screen usage was self-reported and a brain scan is only a “snapshot in time” the Times wrote, as time passes, brain development’s relationship to screen time may change.

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