Today’s Solutions: October 19, 2021

These days it can feel like everything we do involves screens. Work, school, and even booking a doctor’s appointment is done online, but many of us, especially those with young children, worry about the effects of extensive screen time on developing brains. A new study from the University of Colorado, Boulder is one of the largest to investigate how screens influence school-aged children and the results are less alarming than one might think.

The researchers assessed data from the ongoing Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development study, the largest long-term study of child health and brain development in the US to date. They analyzed grades, behavior, mental health assessments, and personal surveys from 11,800 9- and 10-year-olds and although they confirmed that children who spent more time on screens sleep worse, get poorer grades, and are more likely to have attention disorders, there was a surprising benefit to screen times as well.

The researchers found that children who spent more time on screens also had more close friendships than those who did not. Engagement with friends on social media and video games could in fact strengthen friendships for young kids.

The researchers also note that compared to other factors, screen time seems to play a relatively minor role in issues like anxiety, depression, and attention disorders. For example, socioeconomic status had 2.5 times greater impact on such behavioral outcomes. The researchers also note that many of the perceived negative impacts of screen time could actually be the result of reverse causation. Parents of children who exhibit behavioral issues could put them in front of screens more to calm or distract them.

The researchers did state that this study specifically analyzed young children, so the results are not necessarily applicable to teens. Senior author John Hewitt summarizes, “Using this extensive data set, we found that yes, there are relationships between screen time and negative outcomes, but they are not large and not dire.”

Source study: PLOS OneScreen time and early adolescent mental health, academic, and social outcomes in 9- and 10- year old children

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

California opens its first solar-powered composting facility

Starting in 2022, most homes and businesses in California will be required to recycle all food and yard waste in their yard debris carts. The effort is part of new state regulation (SB 1383) which ... Read More

Internet sleuth solves decades-long guitar mystery

Canadian rock star Randy Bachman was devastated when his 1957 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins guitar was stolen from his hotel room in 1976, but thanks to a dedicated internet sleuth, the guitar has been returned ... Read More

Mustard plant could be the solution to greener aviation fuel

Aviation accounts for about three percent of all global emissions, but coming up with more sustainable fuel sources would significantly gut down on the industry’s footprint. Researchers from the University of Georgia think they have ... Read More

WHO recognizes Henrietta Lacks for her life-changing contributions to medicine

When Henrietta Lacks sought treatment for cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in the 1950s, her cancer cells were harvested without her consent. These “HeLa cells” became the first sample of human cells ... Read More

Indian student designs safe and sustainable solar ironing cart

It’s not uncommon to see ironing vendor carts in the streets of Indian cities. These carts offer quick and affordable ironing services, but their irons are often powered by charcoal, creating air pollution issues. To ... Read More

This bandage quickly identifies the severity of a burn

We recently wrote about a bandage design that indicates potential infection. Now, there’s another smart bandage design in the works. This one, literally called SMART, aims to help first responders evaluate and treat severe burns ... Read More