Screens are everywhere! Whether tablets, smart phones, computers, or televisions, they appear to invade every space in the twenty-first century workplace or home.  Studies have indicated that screen time adversely affects almost every critical aspect of teens’ development. Obesity, sleep and attention disorders, depression, and social isolation have been linked to excessive screen use. Research studies provide some recommendations to reduce the detrimental effects:  Reducing screen time during adolescence and into adulthood may be a promising strategy for reducing obesity incidence, especially in females.Higher levels of physical activity among children and young adolescents, and lower levels of leisure-time screen use among young adolescents, are associated with lower depressive symptoms Another recommends: Youth should be advised to limit or reduce screen time exposure, especially before or during bedtime hours to minimize any harmful effects of screen time on sleep and well-being. 

Despite these recommendations, parents often provide their very young children with screens to occupy and entertain them.  According to Dr. John Hutton, a pediatrician and clinical researcher at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, “90% of children are using screens by their first birthday . . .some are using them by 2 to 3 months old. A newly released  study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to illustrate the effects of screen time on the brain development of three to five year olds. The conclusions were alarming! This study found an association between increased screen-based media use, and lower integrity of brain white matter supporting language and emergent literacy skills in prekindergarten children. Thus, young children who are using screens regularly are at risk of having slower brain development. Take those devices out of the hands of young children and engage them in play!

Laura Maniglia