Staring at screens too long 'can change structure of child's brain'

Young people who spend more than seven hours a day staring at a screen have different brain structures compared to the average child, according to a landmark US study.

The research, funded by the National Institute of Health and led by the University of California, San Diego, found children who spend more time online have premature thinning of the cortex, the brain’s outermost layer that processes sensory information.

“It won’t be until we follow them over time that we will see if there are outcomes that are associated with the differences that we’re seeing in this single snapshot,” researcher Dr Gaya Dowling told ’60 Minutes’.

The data, taken from 4,500 children, revealed those who spend more than two hours looking at a screen have worse memory, language skills and attention span.

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