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Expert: Please Keep Kids' Brains Green
Eitan D. Schwarz MD -- ZillyDilly for iPad Eitan D. Schwarz MD -- ZillyDilly for iPad
Thursday, December 09, 2010

As researchers learn more about the effects of technology on our children's brains, parents must become more careful in the use of new devices. After over ten years of relatively chaos in children's media exposure, reliable studies are now beginning to show how media can be damaging to human development starting very early in life. It is in the first years that the brain is actually wired, and many times irreversibly. What can parents do?

Because media is here to stay, its thoughtful deployment is the practical and best answer, not just blocking or limiting it. In fact, it can be good for kids, just as parents can make food consumption healthy by giving nutrients instead of junk. Parents can now be empowered, educated, and given the tools to maximize the positive and eliminate the adverse effects of media.

A recent UCLA study (J Epidemiol Community Health doi:10.1136/jech.2010.115402 http://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2010/11/11/jech.2010.115402.abstract?sid=b593eac2-369e-4769-b857-048bba43e302) shows increased behavioral problems in seven-year-olds who had both prenatal and postnatal exposure to cell phones used by at home. While it is difficult to say that cell phone use actually causes damage, the association is strong. An NYU study http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/164/12/1105?ct ) shows that duration of media exposure at age 6 months was associated with lower cognitive development at age 14 months.These findings definitely need our attention and further study and should definitely get the attention of every parent.

According to Dr. Eitan Schwarz, an Illinois psychiatrist and author of "Kids, Parents & Technology: A Guide for Young Families, "We must start appreciating children's developing brains as environments and ecologies that need to stay green. Parents must make sure that their use of electronics at home is not only safe, but actually brings benefits to their family. They need to be empowered, educated, and given the tools to manage technology. " Also please see www.mydigtalfamily.org .

Lynda O'Connor
(847) 615-5462