It turns out our mothers were right about watching too much TV. A new study reveals spending more than an hour a day in front of a TV or computer monitor can permanently lower a preschooler’s developmental brain functions.

The study, published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, found children between 3 and 5 who spent more than the the recommended hour a day looking at screens suffered lower levels of development in their brains’ white matter, which is responsible for language, literacy and cognitive skills. Dr. John Hutton, the study’s lead author, says, “This is important because the brain is developing the most rapidly in the first five years.” He notes 90 percent of children are regularly viewing screens before they’re 1 year old.

To conduct the study, researchers performed MRIs on 47 preschoolers, most of whom spent about two hours a day in front of a TV, computer or smart phone. The scans revealed their tracts of white matter responsible for executive functions were “disorganized and underdeveloped,” Hutton says.

How much time do you spend in front of a screen every day?

Do you monitor your children’s TV, video game, computer and smart phone time?

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