(CBSNews – Anderson Cooper) If you have kids and wonder if all that time they spend on their smartphones endlessly scrolling, snapping and texting is affecting their brains, you might want to put down your own phone and pay attention. The federal government, through the National Institutes of Health, has launched the most ambitious study of adolescent brain development ever attempted. In part, scientists are trying to understand what no one currently does: how all that screen time impacts the physical structure of your kids’ brains, as well as their emotional development and mental health.
At 21 sites across the country scientists have begun interviewing nine and ten-year-olds and scanning their brains. They’ll follow more than 11,000 kids for a decade, and spend $300 million doing it. Dr. Gaya Dowling of the National Institutes of Health gave us a glimpse of what they’ve learned so far.
Dr. Gaya Dowling: The focus when we first started talking about doing this study was tobacco, marijuana, all drugs the screen time component really came into play because we were wondering what is the impact? I mean, clearly kids spend so much time on screens.
The first wave of data from brain scans of 4,500 participants is in and it has Dr. Dowling of the NIH and other scientists intrigued.