A new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, suggests that too much screen time during infancy may lead to changes in babies’ brain activity, reducing their cognitive ability.
As a consequence, these babies have problems with executive functioning, the ability to stay focused and control impulses, behaviors, and emotions.
This was attributed to variations in neural activities implicated in the development of high-order cognitive skills.
The research carried out in Singapore where pregnant mothers were enrolled and followed more than 400 of their children, from infancy all the way to 9 years of age.
When the babies were one year old, the team asked parents the amount of time babies spent with screens on weekdays and weekends. Later, when the children were 18 months old, the researchers used encephalograms (EEGs) to study their brain waves.
From this, it was discovered that the more time the children had spent with screens at 12 months of age, the stronger were their slower-frequency brain waves compared with high-frequency beta waves.
Infants exposed to screens are particularly vulnerable to executive function deficits due to their difficulty processing information.
Researches have shown that since the advent of mobile electronic devices, infants aged between 6 and 18 months are exposed to 2 to 3 hours of screen time per day
This amount far exceeds the policy statement and recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which discourages screen media use before age 18 months except for video chatting.