The $300 million experiment scanned the brains of 4,500 children who played video games and used smart devices a lot. Assessment of the images revealed that "different patterns" appeared in the developing brains of the participants.
Researchers from the National Institute of Health (NIH) conducted the study. They reported that the cerebral cortex of kids of ages 9 to 10 showed signs of growing thinner if they used a smartphone or wireless device for at least seven hours each day.
The cerebral cortex is the outermost layer of the brain. It handles the interpretation of all sensory data from the senses. At this point in time of the child's life, it should be growing, not shrinking. But the researchers stated that this pattern of premature thinning regularly appeared in the brains of children who spent an excessive amount of time using smart devices and video games. (Related: Simple strategies for lifelong brain health.)
The NIH researchers came across another worrisome pattern. This one involved children who used touchscreen smart devices for more than two hours each day. These kids performed worse on tests that measured their language and reasoning skills.
Based on the results of their experiment, they urged parents to prevent children ranging from two years old or younger from using any form of digital media. The only supposedly safe use of any smart device is for video chatting.
The researchers also expressed their desire to find out more about the long-term outcomes and health effects of heavy usage of wireless devices. Their remarks suggested that they never suspected smart devices could negatively alter the brains of children.
Other experiments have drawn similar connections between radiation exposure from smartphone use and the appearance of health problems in children and unborn babies. An animal study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) showed that exposing pregnant mice to smartphones led to their babies suffering from hyperactivity and forgetfulness.
Harvard researchers reported that exposure to the electromagnetic field of a smartphone could interfere with proper brain signaling. Lab animals grew more prone to agitation due to the effects of the radiation from the phone.
Meanwhile, a study by the U.S. National Toxicology Program found a connection between the use of smartphones and heart cancer. The radiation given off by the phones have also been associated with higher risks of brain cancer, breast cancer, and other tumorous diseases.
Despite the findings from these tests, smartphones have been allowed to proliferate. Children often get their hands on these wireless devices and use them nonstop for long periods of time.
Worse, parents would indulge their kids by lending out their phone or tablet. They would even buy a smart device for the exclusive use of their young children.
Children displayed a greater vulnerability to diseases. Their brains absorbed up to 1,000 percent as much radiation from a smartphone than adult brains. Even indirect exposure by watching an adult use a phone subjected the child to harmful radiation.
The best way to prevent this is to reduce the use of smart devices as much as possible. And if you have a small child at home, don't let him or her go near any such wireless device.