Last month the American Academy Of Pediatrics released new recommendations for your kid, which stated that screen time isn’t so bad, provided parents follow specific age and time limits. If you thought that meant you’d finally know what the hell to do with your toddler’s iPad, you’re sorely mistaken. This is just a jumping off point to debate all the terrible things that could happen when you don’t set parameters, and that’s exactly what scientists did at the Society For Neuroscience meeting held earlier this month.
The discussion was about a recent study of 10-day-old mice that were exposed to light and sound similar to video games for 6 hours daily for several weeks, and showed dramatic changes everywhere in their brains as a result. “Many of those changes suggest that you have a brain that is wired up at a much more baseline excited level,” explained Jan-Marino Ramirez, director of the Center for Integrative Brain Research at Seattle Children’s Hospital and co-author of the research. The rewiring is a mixed bag. On one hand, the mice were able to stay calm in environments that would stress out other mice. On the other, the mice displayed signs of attention deficit disorder, which is one way to find out that rodents have attention spans.
As interesting are these findings are, to say they challenge the AAP’s guidelines on screen time would be an overstatement. First, their new recommendations for kids under 18 months old only allow screen time in the form of video-chatting (Grandma’s rule), and very gradual introduction of quality programming after that’s co-viewed with parents and limited to one hour up until the age of 5. So if you’re concerned about short-circuiting your little live wire, as long as you can tell the difference between one hour of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and 6 hours of Grand Theft Auto, then your kid should be fine with the brain you gave them.