Screen Time: At What Cost?

Neil Gordon
July 7, 2015

As we work with experts in pediatrics and neuroscience, child development, and early learning on our upcoming exhibit focused on early brain development, we are learning so much.  That 85% of brain development happens in the first three years of life.  That “serve-and-response” interactions with other humans are the best way to build rich neural pathways.  That the human brain does not process electronic voices the same way it processes human voices, thereby rendering TVs, smart phones and tablets either with no impact on brain development or perhaps even a harmful one.  

Another area of focus here is the expansion of our outdoor facilities and exhibits, in order to help kids and families get outside for healthy physical activity and environmental education.  Why?  The past few decades have seen several negative trends in obesity rates, creativity scores, and attention deficit diagnoses. Although research indicates that active outdoor play has a positive impact in children’s activity level, concentration, and creativity, kids are spending significantly less time outdoors.  What do you think they are doing instead?

This from Jane Brody’s post to the Well blog in The New York Times yesterday:

“While Internet addiction is not yet considered a clinical diagnosis here, there’s no question that American youths are plugged in and tuned out of “live” action for many more hours of the day than experts consider healthy for normal development. And it starts early, often with preverbal toddlers handed their parents’ cellphones and tablets to entertain themselves when they should be observing the world around them and interacting with their caregivers.”

Read the complete post, Screen Addiction Is Taking a Toll on Children, with thanks to Jane E. Brody.

photo of CEO Neil Gordon standing with treehouse in background
Neil Gordon

I joined the museum in September 2009, and feel lucky to serve this terrific community of kids, families and supporters. After serving as Budget Director for the City of Boston, my museum career began in 1995 at Boston Children’s Museum, where I served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. My priorities for the Discovery Museum include supporting kids and families to play and learn together; expanding outdoor learning; increasing access for underserved populations; and building upon our year history to create a museum for the next 30 years.


We firmly believe in the fundamental value of play for children—and families—to support emotional, developmental, and social health and well-being. This blog will explore why play matters, and touch on all aspects of our work to encourage play and support early STEAM learning.