The Impact of Screens & Blocks Rock! on Kids’ Brains

Researchers are trying to find out how screen time for kids affects their behavior and development. Learn more about what they've found so far!

Learning STEM at school and at home seems easier than ever with phone, tablet, and computer applications. With the help of a screen, the world opens up to learning videos designed specifically for kids, educational software, and more. In fact, in 2017, children 8 and under spent on average around two hours and fifteen minutes per day looking at screens, including educational materials (Common Sense Media).

But how does this screen time, and other time spent in front of screens, affect children? Researchers are trying to find it out by looking into how screen time for kids affects their behavior and development.

If you are in charge of the care of children, you’ll need to see what initial results from this study found! By the end, you might find yourself considering a compelling non-screen option for STEM learning, Blocks Rock!

How do screens affect kids?

The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study is a $300 million project financed by the National Institutes of Health. This study “aims to reveal how brain development is affected by a range of experiences, including substance use, concussions, and screen time” (New York Times). This study will follow over 11,000 children for more than ten years, and the first data from the study have been discussed on a 60 Minutes Segment.

Here are three of the initial results talked about on 60 Minutes:

  1. MRI scans of 4,500 participants showed significant differences in the brains of some kids who use smartphones, tablets, and video games more than seven hours a day.

  2. This level of screen use also showed a premature thinning of the cortex, and scientists don’t know if that’s a bad thing or not yet.

  3. Kids who spent more than two hours a day on screens got lower scores on thinking and language tests.   

This study isn’t the first time there have been concerns about how screen time can affect children. Since 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) publicly “encourages parents (and caregivers) to help their children form and practice healthy media use habits.”

In 2018, the AAP also cautioned against digital games or toys that have “educational” on their label. Their website states that, “research suggests tablet-based toys may actually delay social development for infants and young children.”

We want to be clear that we aren’t trying to scare anyone off from using technology with kids. 

We know there are many benefits! However, we think these studies and recommendations show that you should consider the impact of screen time on children and the quality of their time with technology.

A Powerful Alternative to STEM Learning Screens: Blocks Rock!

You don’t have to wonder if a child’s favorite STEM app is the tipping point in causing premature thinning of the cortex. Instead, there are alternatives to screens that are fun and develop STEM skills in kids!

One alternative that has been proven to make a positive impact on kids’ brains is Blocks Rock!

Blocks Rock! is a hands-on learning game that brings competitive structured block play into your school or home. Researchers with a major university studied the impact of structured block building on spatial processing compared to board games. Using Blocks Rock!, researchers found that block play has a significant impact on mental rotation and spatial reasoning.

Spatial reasoning is important because children with higher spatial reasoning abilities will have a higher likelihood of furthering their education and future careers in STEM. In addition to improving critical STEM skills, Blocks Rock! also allows children to connect and interact with one another through head-to-head competition. There’s also a 3D Companion App that allows children to create bigger and more complicated block structures while still using their hands to build and compete.

Instead of spending money on questionable technology to aid in children’s learning, now is the time to invest in a proven STEM-skill building game that provides real-life connection, Blocks Rock!


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