As a child psychiatrist, I see first hand how screen-time (especially interactive) impacts mood, cognition, and behavior by causing hyperarousal and overstimulation, leading to a dysregulated nervous system. In short, screen exposure repeatedly induces a stress response. This is the mechanism behind all the effects, including physical ones such as obesity and metabolic syndrome. (I call screen-related dysregulation "Electronic Screen Syndrome.") Parents, clinicians, and educators need to be aware that screen-time causes changes in brain chemistry, networks and blood flow, hormones, sleep patterns, and social interactions.

The first intervention I do with every patients is to take them off all screens for 3-4 weeks, followed by strict restriction or elimination thereafter. This greatly reduces the need for psychiatric medication, improves concentration, reading and math abilities, reduces mood swings, depression and aggression, and supports healthier social interactions--at home and at school. It truly is a panacea.

I agree with Cris Rowan on this recommendation. We're only just discovering the effects of so much screen-time on the developing brain, and evidence is mounting to minimize it as long and as much as possible.

If you need more convincing read my article on screen-time and brain scan research: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-wealth/201402/gray-matters-too-much-screen-time-damages-the-brain

Victoria Dunckley M.D.