Screen-based media has become a prevailing part of children’s lives. Different technologies provide limitless access to a wide range of content. This accessibility has immensely increased screen exposure among children, showing that this exposure is associated with decreased cognitive abilities. This study was designed to evaluate how the neurobiological correlates for different sub-components of screen exposure, such as level of access, content, and frequency, are related to different cognitive abilities. Resting-state functional MRI data were collected in 29 native English-speaking children (8–12 years old), in addition to cognitive-behavioral measures. Functional connectivity measures within and between several networks related to cognitive control and attention were calculated [fronto-parietal (FP), cingulo-opercular (CO), dorsal attention (DAN), ventral attention (VAN), salience, default mode (DMN), cerebellar networks]. Sub-components of screen exposure were measured using the Screen-Q questionnaire. Higher access to screens was related to lower functional connectivity between neural networks associated with basic attention skills and cognitive control (i.e., DAN and salience). In addition, higher levels of parent-child interaction during screen exposure were related to increased functional connectivity between networks related to cognitive control and learning (i.e., CO and cerebellar). These findings suggest that screen exposure may reduce the engagement of basic attention and modulation of cognitive control networks and that higher levels of parent-child interaction engage cognitive control networks. An enhanced understanding of these processes can provide an important scientific basis for future educational and medical approaches regarding screen exposure.
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- Brain networks
- child development
- parent-child interaction
- resting-state fMRI
- screen exposure