Kid Phone Usage: Screen Time Changes Structure of Kids’ Brains, ‘60 Minutes’ Says

60 Minutes
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If you have kids in wonder if all that time they spend on their smartphones endlessly scrolling snapping and texting is affecting their brains. You might wanna put down your own phone and pay attention. The federal government through the national institutes of health has launched the most ambitious study of adolescent, brain development, ever attempted in part. Scientists are trying to understand what no one currently does how all that screen time impacts the physical structure of your kids brains as well as their emotional development and mental health. Let me know when you're ready twenty one sites across the country. Scientists have begun interviewing nine and ten year olds and scanning their brains. They'll follow more than eleven thousand kids for a decade and spend three hundred million dollars doing it. It's quite an investment. Doctor guy Dowling of the national institutes of health gave us a glimpse of what they've learned. So far, the focus only I started talking about doing this study was tobacco marijuana all drugs. The screen time component really came into play. Because we were wondering what is the impact? I mean, clearly kids spend so much time on screens the first wave of data from brain scans of forty five hundred participants is in and it has Donald Dowling of the NIH and other scientists intrigued here, you can see that there are differences in the patterns, the Moro is found significant differences in the brains of some kids who use smartphones, tablets and video games. More than seven hours a day. What we can say is that this is what the brains look like of kids who spent a lot of time on screens, and it's not just one pattern. That's hassen. It's very fascinating the color show differences in the nine and ten year olds brains. The red color represents premature thinning of the cortex. That's the wrinkly outermost layer of the brain that processes information from the five senses. What is a thinning of the cortex? Mean? That's typically thought to be a maturation process. What we would expect to see later is happening a little bit earlier should parents be concerned by that. We don't know if it's being caused by the screen time. We don't know yet. If it's a bad thing, it won't be until we follow them over time that we will see if there are outcomes that are associated with the the differences that we're seeing in this single snapshot, the interviews and data from the NIH study have already revealed something else kids who spend more than two hours a day. A on screens got lower scores on thinking and language tests. When the study is complete is a possible that a researcher will be able to say whether or not screen time is actually addictive we hope so we'll be able to see not only how much time are they spending how they perceive it impacting them. But also, what are some of the outcomes and that will get at the question of whether there's a dictionary not win. Will you have the answers that you're searching for some questions will be able to answer in a few years. But some of the really interesting questions about these long term outcomes, we're going to have to wait a while because they need to happen that delay leaves researchers who studied technology's impact on very small children anxious in many ways, the concern that investigators like I have is that we're sort of in the midst of a natural kind of uncontrolled experiment on the next generation of children. Doctor Dimitri Christoph is at Seattle Children's hospital was the lead author of the American Academy of pedia. Deatrich most recent guidelines for screen time. They now recommend parents avoid digital media use except video chatting in children younger than eighteen to twenty four months. So what we do know about babies playing with ipads, is that they don't transfer what they learn from the ipad to the real world, which is to say that if you give a child an app where they play with virtual Legos, virtual blocks and stack them and then put real blocks in front of them. They start all over if they try to do it in real life. It's as if they've never done it before it, also, it's not transferable. Don't transfer the knowledge from two dimensions to three don't you? Kristina kiss is one of the few scientists who've already done experiments on the influence screens have on children under the age of two. It's a critical period for human brain development. If you're concerned about your teenager being addicted to their iphone your infant is much more vulnerable and using the exact. Same device your infant is more vulnerable. Because why because the experience of making something happen is so much more gratifying to them. In a small pilot study the doctor cosstalk has conducted on fifteen children. Researchers gave toddlers three toys first of plastic ATar than an ipad that played musical notes. And finally an ipad with an app that rewarded the kids with lights colors and sound. So it a very specific time of the research. Assistant will ask the child to give what they're playing with back to give it to the resources to research assistant. Sixty six percent of the time with their traditional toy the child will do just that with the ipad that simulates that they give it back almost with the same frequency. But with the ipad app that when they push on it, it does all kinds of things they're much less likely to give it back with a more interactive. I've had app the percentage of kids willing to hand it back to the researcher dropped from sixty percent to forty five percent. It's that much more engaging. It's that much more engaging. And that's what we find in the laboratory. It's engaging by design Tristan Harris told us in a story we reported more than a year ago. There's a whole playbook of techniques that get used to get using the product for as long as possible. Harris is a former Google manager. Who is one of the first Silicon Valley insiders to publicly acknowledge that phones and apps are being designed to capture and keep kids attention. This is about the war for attention, and where that's taking society, and we're that's taking technology which wanting for adults four kids. This is a whole other thing. That's where this gets particularly sensitive is developmentally. Do we want this war for attention to be affecting our children? Do you think parents understand the complexities of what their kids are dealing with? No. And I think this is really important because there's a narrative that all I guess they're just doing this like we used to gossip on the phone. But what this MRs is that your telephone in the nineteen seventies didn't have a thousand engineers and the other side of the telephone who are redesigning it to work with other telephones. And then updating the way your telephone work every day to be more and more persuasive until recently, it was impossible to see what happens inside a young. Brain when a person is focused on a mobile device. But now scientists at the university of California San Diego have hacked that problem. How often do you have people come in? Marois? So as often as we possibly can Dr Karen bag is an investigator on that three hundred million dollar NIH study her team is scanning teenagers brains as they follow Instagram. The most popular social media app when we met eighteen year old Roxy ship. She was about to participate in Dr baggage study how much time do you actually spend on screens a check my phone, Freddie regularly. I'd say what's pretty regularly every at least ten to twenty minutes is a conservative estimate. She can't take her phone into the MRI because of the powerful magnets in the machine. So a mirror has been placed above her face to allow her to look across the room at a movie screen displaying images from her Instagram account this way, Dr Baghdad can see exactly which parts of the brain's reward system are most active while using social media. So you could actually see a part of the brain light up when you're feeling good. Yes. From the scanner in the Skinner based on her data and the results from other studies. Dr baggage is among scientists who believe screen time stimulates the release of the brain chemical dopamine, which has a pivotal role in cravings and desire. So you're more likely to act impulsively. And use social media compulsively. Instead of like checking yourself you wanna keep on it to keep getting the good feelings. Teenagers. Now spend on average four and a half hours a day on their phones all that time has resulted in a fundamental shift in how a generation of American kids acts and thinks when smartphones went from being something only a few people had something the majority of people had it had this really big affect on how teens related to each other. Gene twinkie is a psychology professor at San Diego State university. She spent five years combing through four large national surveys of eleven million young people since the nineteen sixties she discovered sudden changes in the behavior and mental health of teens born in one thousand nine hundred five and later generation that she calls I gen- now the first generation to spend their entire adolescence with smartphones. So a lot of them can't remember a time before smartphones existed. There have been generational shifts before in the past. I haven't they're certainly this one's much more sudden and pronounced. Than most of the others. The food was introduced in two thousand and seven smartphones. Gained widespread usage among young people by two thousand and twelve gene. Twenty says she was startled to find that in the four years that followed the percentage of teens who reported drinking. We're having sex fell. But the percentage who said they were lonely or depressed spite it's possible. Other factors may have played a role. But twenty says she wasn't able to identify any that correlated as closely as the growing popularity of the smartphone and social media. It's not just the loneliness and depression from these surveys. It's also that ER visits for self harm like cutting have tripled online girls aged ten to fourteen what our teams doing on their phones that that could be connected to depression. It could be anything. There's there's kind of two different schools of thought on this said, it's the specific things that teams are doing on their phones. That's the problem or it could be just the sheer amount of time. Mm that they're spending on their phones. That's the problem. Finding definitive answers about social media's influence on mental health can be a frustrating. Exercise. Eighty one percent of teens in a new national survey by the Pew Research Center said they feel more connected to their friends and associated social media use with feeling included. But in a month long experiment at the university of Pennsylvania college

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