Jason Chein, PhD (Director, Temple University Brain Research & Imaging Center, Professor, Department of Psychology, Temple University) discusses research into the impacts of screen time on youth cognition and executive control at #AskTheExperts webinar “Minds on Media: The Associations between Screen Engagement and Children’s Developing Brains” on November 3, 2021.

[Dr. Jason Chein] Maybe you’ve heard on the news media, out in society, kids’ screen time habits are bad for the development of attention, kids have short attention spans today, and their executive functioning skills seem to be diminished. So let’s start with executive control. Is it true that more screen time, increased involvement with digital media are associated with an impairment or with weaker executive control, executive functioning? We find something very similar when we- in my lab have been studying increased or excessive smartphone usage. And so the finding is that those individuals who spend a lot of time on their phones, largely engaging with social media applications, well, they perform less well on cognitive measures of flexibility, which was, as Dr. Paulus presented to you, part of this measure of control. And it’s the inability to switch back and forth between one task state and another one, to be kind of able to think in different ways, in different moments. It’s called media multitasking. And in this behavior, you’re not just engaging with one form of technology or digital media, but you’re actually engaging with multiple forms of technology simultaneously. And what- one of the interesting findings from those individuals who tend to be heavy media multitaskers is that they tend to show weaker ability to sustain and control and focus attention, and they show diminished- diminished performance on measures of working memory.

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Ask the Experts—Webinar

Minds on Media: The Associations between Screen Engagement and Children’s Developing Brains

How can we use screens responsibly in order to have a positive impact on children's cognitive abilities both at home and in the classroom?

Brain and Cognition
Education & Learning