Let’s Look at How the Brain Responds to Screen Time

Before addiction sets in, a child’s nervous system can become overstimulated and hyper-aroused from moderate but regular amounts of screen time. This causes the brain to be in a state of chronic stress and effectively short circuits the frontal lobe, creating a host of symptoms that mimic or exacerbate mental health, learning, and behavioral disorders.

Playing video games floods the pleasure center of the brain with dopamine,” says David Greenfield, Ph.D., founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. That gives gamers a rush—but only temporarily, he explains. With all that extra dopamine lurking around, the brain gets the message to produce less of this critical neurotransmitter. The end result: players can end up with a diminished supply of dopamine.

Take a game like that away from addicted adolescents and they often show behavioral problems, withdrawal symptoms, even aggression, according to Dr. Greenfield.

Studies show that video games, especially violent ones, stimulate the left brain and inhibit the right frontal lobes which are critical for sustained unrewarded attention, inhibition and social skill development. One study has found that playing computer games may stunt brain development. Researchers found through highly specialized mind mapping technology that the only brain activity going on in the brains of teens playing on the computer was in the areas that control vision and movement. They found no activity in the frontal lobes. By contrast, the researchers observed that both the left and the right hemispheres of the kids’ brains doing simple arithmetic calculations were highly active.

“Kids spend an estimated 7.5 hours per day on mobile devices. When kids play computer games, their minds are processing information in much different way than kids who are, say, running around on a playground. It might look like they are concentrating but it is not the form of attention needed to thrive in school or life. Recent studies have shown that playing computer games only builds very short-term attention that needs to be rewarded frequently. To succeed in school and social situations, kids need to build long-term unrewarded attention – the exact opposite of what is being stimulated through video games and modern TV.

At the very least, parents should monitor their children’s screen time to ensure optimal brain development.” – Dr. Robert Melillo

In another study seen in the Guardian,

“Children often do things they shouldn’t because their frontal lobes are underdeveloped. The more work done to thicken the fibres connecting the neurons in this part of the brain, the better the child’s ability will be to control their behaviour. The more this area is stimulated, the more these fibres will thicken.

The students who played computer games were halting the process of brain development and affecting their ability to control potentially anti-social elements of their behaviour.”

‘The importance of this discovery cannot be underestimated,’ Kawashima told The Observer .

‘There is a problem we will have with a new generation of children – who play computer games – that we have never seen before.”

Here are some questions you might want to consider?

  • Does your child seem revved up much of the time?
  • Does your child have meltdowns over minor frustrations?
  • Does your child have full-blown rages?
  • Has your child become increasingly oppositional, defiant, or disorganized?
  • Does your child become irritable when told it’s time to stop playing video games or to get off the computer?
  • Do you ever notice your child’s pupils are dilated after using electronics?
  • Does your child have a hard time making eye contact after screen time or in general?
  • Would you describe your child as being attracted to screens “like a moth to a flame”?
  • Do you ever feel your child is not as happy as he or she should be or is not enjoying activities as much as he or she used to?
  • Does your child have trouble making or keeping friends because of immature behavior?
  • Do you worry that your child’s interests have narrowed recently, or that interests mostly revolve around screens? Do you feel his or her thirst for knowledge and natural curiosity has been dampened?
  • Are your child’s grades falling, or is he or she not performing academically up to his or her potential — and no one is certain why?

If you are concerned that your child may have ADHD or has never been tested for Autism or Dyslexia, contact us for an evaluation. Our comprehensive initial brain assessment examines your child’s brain through QEEG brain mapping, and then we run a series of physical assessments called Primitive Reflexes. Ruling out ADHD can be a start but the earlier you address these behaviors and get control of them, the better it will be for your child’s future.

Our programs include:

Contact us today at info@savingyourbrain.com to get started.