Video Games and Young Children's Developing Brains

Video Games and Young Children's Developing Brains
Posted on 02/15/2017

          Video Games and Young Children’s Developing Brains

There is certainly an appropriate use that technology can play to help engage young learners.   

However, there is a growing amount of evidence that excessive video game use can lead to undesirable changes in children’s brains.  Too much video time can result in a constant state of revved up hyperarousal.  This hyperarousal can look different for each individual and can include difficulties paying attention, managing emotions, controlling impulses, following directions and tolerating frustrations.  Prolonged exposure to intensely stimulating and violent video games puts the brain into a chronic state of flight or fight.  The release of the stress hormone cortisol can result in irritability, decreased immune response, unstable blood sugar levels and anxiety and/or depression.  

Hyperarousal can also release a hormone called dopamine-a feel good chemical linked to experiencing success and achievement.  In the case of too much video time, the excessive dopamine can cause addictive behaviors.  Young children addicted to video games will seek video time even if it has negative consequences and to the exclusion of other activities.  So moderation is the key.

What You Can Do

  1. Understand the ratings of video games and what age-appropriate content should look like

  2.  Provide opportunity for beneficial educational apps and games that reinforce or extend learning at school

  3.  Monitor and limit all video game time and balance it with activities that promote in-person, social interaction time

  4. Create times that are screen/video free such as mealtimes and at least a half hour before bedtime

Adapted from article by Dr. Victoria Dunckley, “Your Child’s Brain On Video Games”.