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how do smartphones affect the brain

In commentary appearing in the journal Pediatrics, researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine took a closer look at the available literature on smartphone and iPad use among very young children. Using such devices to entertain or pacify children, they warn, might have a detrimental effect on their social and emotional development.

“If these devices become the predominant method to calm and distract young children, will they be able to develop their own internal mechanisms of self-regulation?” the researchers question.

Hands-on activities and those involving direct human interaction are superior to interactive screen games, the experts suggest. The use of mobile devices becomes especially problematic when such devices replace hands-on activities that help develop visual-motor and sensorimotor skills. The researchers note however, that there are still many unknowns about how the use of mobile devices influences child development.

Using your smartphone or tablet at bedtime might be interfering with your sleep, and not because you’re staying up late to check your email, scroll through your Facebook news feed, or play a game of Trivia Crack. Instead, some sleep experts warn, it is the type of light emitted from your mobile device’s screen that might just be messing up your sleep-cycle, even after you turn off your device.

In a study published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, a dozen adult participants were asked to either read on an iPad for four hours each night before bed or read printed books in dim lighting. After five consecutive nights, the two groups switched. What the researchers discovered was that those who had read on an iPad before bedtime displayed a reduction in levels of melatonin, a hormone that increases throughout the evening and induces sleepiness. It also took these participants more time to fall asleep, and they experienced less REM sleep throughout the night.