As tech use continues to explode across all age segments, a number of research studies are beginning to understand the long-term effects of screen time on the brain. One such study is investigates the developmental impact of device screen time on infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

The study, published by the journal JAMA Pediatrics, discovered that children ages three to five, who viewed more than the recommended amount of screen time per day (one hour), showed lower levels of development in the brain’s white matter. White matter is considered a key area for language development, literacy, and cognitive skills.

This study emerges on the heels of previous studies that documented the detrimental effects on children’s attention span and behavior with excessive television viewing. While exact causes are not yet proven, it’s proposed that excessive screen time for young children is also connected to language delay, poor sleep, impaired executive functions (processes linked with managing oneself and resources), and decreases in parent-child engagement.

Parents are encouraged to establish good media and screen time habits to mitigate children’s exposure. Parents of infants are strongly discouraged from any form of screen media other than video calls with family. Preschool aged children can benefit from education screen time in moderation.

To find out more about screen time’s effect on early childhood development, please see this CNN article.