• Could your child's brain actually benefit from increased screen time?

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    Could your child's brain actually benefit from screen time? Groundbreaking research is showing it might not be that bad after all.

    The Laureate Institute for Brain Research in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is one of 21 sites participating in a 10-year study of nearly 12,000 kids. The University of Pittsburgh is also involved in the study.

    Researchers are looking at adolescent brain cognitive development and, in this case, screen time.

    "We don't have good evidence that screen time is bad for kids." Dr. Martin Paulus, of the Laureate Institute for Brain Research, said.

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    Like a lot of kids, 10-year-old Chiles Stover enjoys playing video games. But his parents, like so many others, worry about screen time.

    "It's a new space and, as parents, it's a little unnerving because you don't really know what the long-term consequences are," Rhett Stover, Chiles' dad, said.

    "Within reason, the average activity that the kid engages in, at least at that age, we didn't find any associations with negative outcomes, either more problems in school or problems with other kids, or anything like that," Paulus said.

    The research team also noticed something in scans of the children's brains: Those involved in gaming had a more developed prefrontal cortex.


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    "The front of the brain -- responsible for emotional regulation, impulse control -- it's kind of like the brakes of the brain. It develops later in life … the last area to develop. That part of the brain is developed a little bit faster in kids that are playing video games," Florence Breslin, of the Laureate Institute for Brain Research, said. "Is that bad? Is that good? We don't know yet, and we're going to follow that because we're really interested in that question."

    The group said this is far from giving a green light to unlimited screen time. More study is needed.

    Until then, parents need to find what's right for them.

    "I think there's moderation and healthy balance that's important, but finding it routinely is the difficult part," Stover said.

    Researchers said parents still need to watch out for children withdrawing from other activities just to game, or children getting frustrated, sad or angry after gaming.


     

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