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Landmark study shows screen time is impacting kids' brain development

Posted at 6:26 PM, Dec 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-10 23:02:18-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A new study takes a closer look at the impact the amount of time children spend on cell phones, computers and TV is having on their brains.

“What they're finding, or what they're reporting, is that more screen time, in fact a lot of screen time, around 7 hours a day is associated with changes in the brain and changes in cognition,” said Rachel Barr, a developmental psychologist.

Dr. Barr studies the impact TVs, computers and cell phones can have on young children.

"They do get addicted, to the point that they don't even want to come downstairs and eat breakfast," one parent said.

Kids between the ages of 8 and 12 spend generally six hours a day, while teens are spending nearly nine hours. Researchers found kids who spend more than two hours of daily screen time score lower on thinking and language tests.

While Dr. Barr agrees too much time can have negative impacts, she points out what children watch on their devices matter.

“Exposure to education programming in younger children is associated with better outcomes and especially for children who are growing up in low resourced communities,” Dr. Barr said.

Parents can help curb screen time by setting time limits and ground rules, like keeping screens out of the bedroom, which can make it easier for children to fall and stay asleep.

“Setting up this family media plan, being mindful of your own media use and your child's media use, even though you're being bombarded by all of these changes in media yourself,” Dr. Barr said.