Did you know that your child’s brain is creating neural pathways everyday? Like a muscle, they either use it, or lose it.
In a study of taxi cab drivers in Britain, researchers compared the brain activity of taxi cab drivers who did not use GPS to the brain activity of others not required to learn the complicated streets of London. What they found needs to be etched into our brain activity as parents.
The hippocampus—the part of the brain responsible for the memory of location of objects or people—was thriving in taxi cab drivers not using GPS. The author of study found that the more years of experience the cabbies had, the more the brain was thriving. Her hope is that these drivers never begin using GPS because of it’s reverse effect on the hippocampus.
What does this mean for you? The hippocampus helps you find your house at the end of the day and is responsible for storing the long-term memories you have from your childhood or the kayaking trip you took on your honeymoon.
Do you remember when you had more than 10 phone numbers memorized? How many do you know today without looking at your phone?
Not using this part of your brain is akin to not doing arm curls to build your biceps.
When you don’t use it, you lose it.
In recent months, tech companies have come under incredible political pressure for not warning parents of the inherent dangers of too much screen time on a child’s brain.
As parents, we have a significant influence on how our child’s brain is being wired. That’s why you need to know these recent trends.
1. 25% of kids under age six own a smartphone.
What’s worse? Of the parents surveyed, 8 in 10 don’t monitor the amount of time their child is using a screen.
The brain grows fastest in the first five years of life. Research increasingly shows that screen time in our youngest is leading to inattention, anxiety, and depression. Just as you wouldn’t give your child sugar every time he asks for it, set a limit on how much screen time he gets, too. Too much sugar suppresses the immune system. Too much screen time suppresses the brain.
2. The average person touches, swipes, or clicks their phone 2,617 times a day.
The top 10% do so 5,427 times a day.
We live in a state of what researchers describe as “continuous partial attention.” We don’t pay full attention to any one thing when our phone is within reach.
Have your children asked you to get off your phone to pay attention to them? Mine have. Wiring our kids’ brains for relationships begins with us—the parents.
3. The happiest teens use screens less than an hour a day.
In fact, the teens who spent more time in face-to-face, in-person interaction with friends were happiest.
As a parent, we all want our kids to be happy. However, many believe that giving their child what they want in the moment (a screen) will do that. Yet, there is an inverse relationship between happiness and time spent on a screen for both children and adults.
God designed our brain to be wired for relationships. Perhaps it’s no wonder the happiest kids are those who engage in them.
This blog post originally appeared at JoshuaStraub.com.