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What Does Too Much Screen Time Do to Children’s Brains?

Child behavioral expert Dr. Jennifer Cross explains why screen time should be limited for kids and why some screens are better than others.

Consider this: Nearly half of all children 8 and under have their own tablet device and spend an average of about 2.25 hours a day on digital screens, according to Common Sense Media.

What is all this screen time doing to kids’ brains?

Early data from a landmark National Institutes of Health (NIH) study that began in 2018 indicates that children who spent more than two hours a day on screen-time activities scored lower on language and thinking tests, and some children with more than seven hours a day of screen time experienced thinning of the brain’s cortex, the area of the brain related to critical thinking and reasoning.

“We’re not sure what this data means yet, but what we can hypothesize is that screens could inhibit certain aspects of a child’s development by narrowing their focus of interest and limiting their other means of exploration and learning,” says Dr. Jennifer F. Cross, attending pediatrician and a developmental and behavioral pediatrics expert at NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital. “If young children spend most of their time...

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