The Effects of Electronic Media Exposure on the Developing Brain

The human brain undergoes tremendous growth and change during pregnancy and the first three to four years of life.  It continues to mature while creating trillions of synaptic connections to aid in learning and memory formation till young adult hood.  Their are many influences that can alter brain development. One of the more insidious is electronic media exposure (TV, Computers, Tablets, Cell Phones and Video Games) since they are everywhere with younger and younger children actually using them. Some even get a device of their own as young a 2 years old.

Here is what we know:
Exposure to more than 3 hours a day combined, of any electronic medium, increases hyperactivity, decreases attention span and is associated with aggression.
Exposure to programs that advertise, leads to the purchase of that product by the parent after a child request almost 20% of the time.  And advertising is typically centered on sugary, fat and less nutritious products.
LED blue back light interferes with the brains natural circadian cycle and the production of melatonin thus reducing quality of sleep. It also directly damages the retina.
Staring at electronic devices leads to eye strain and less tear production, which leads to vision issues over time.
The devices emit delta waves which slow brain function and make you more susceptible to messages/advertisements. (Same effect as if hypnotized.)
It reduces verbal memory.
It reduces sympathy and tolerance especially in middle school children who play violent video games.
Preschoolers may show similar features to Autism Spectrum Disorders after excessive exposure to electronic media coupled with maternal depression. 
And it distracts parents from parenting. It makes adults less available to their children.  I have seen this many an occasion in the parking lot. Parents talking on a cell phone, the child’s hand not held, car pulling out, bystander doctor yells out.

What you can do:
Avoid electronic media exposure of all sorts the first three years of life.
Then limit it to a total of 2 hours a day. Perhaps 3 on weekends if they have earned the extra time.
Read, read and read some more to your developing child.
Talk to them even about mundane day to day affairs.
Take a 20 second break every 20 minutes and look 20 feet away to reduce eye strain.
And don’t buy the advertised item, it implies we are at our child’s whim.

Developmental Tip of the Month