Prof. Dr. Mustafa Bülent Şerbetçioğlu warned families about the harms of exposure to audio and visual digital media in infancy, within the scope of March 3, World Ear and Hearing Day.
Prof. Dr. Şerbetçioğlu pointed out that in the first 4-5 years of life, babies learn their native language effortlessly by hearing the speech sounds around them, “If many neurons need to be stimulated together for an activity in the brain, the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is secreted and these neurons are stimulated more strongly together. It acts like a teacher who explains the importance of the skill learned and enables it to be learned and applied effortlessly. The last task of BDNF is to end the learning period effortlessly when the critical period should end. During this critical period, our baby perceives and learns to speak easily without paying attention. BDNF activates a region in the frontal lobe cortex, called the nucleus basalis, to keep the baby focused and sustained until the end of the period, but things are likely to get complicated by the introduction of autism-priming genes before the critical period. “When it causes the secretion of excessive amounts of BDNF, it acts on all neurons, not those that are important to speak, and soon their connections lead to the development of undifferentiated and undeveloped brain map.”
“THE FIRST FOUR YEARS IS HIGHLY IMPORTANT”
Prof. Dr. Referring to the fact that children’s ability to understand and use language are two of the most important developmental factors that they need to master in the first three years of life, Şerbetçioğlu gave the following information:
“The worst thing that can be done is to occupy the baby’s brain with unnecessary moving images for natural development, especially in this period of time when he will gain language skills. In the first 4-5 years of life, a corner grabbing game is played, which is shaped according to the warnings received in the brain shell. In other words, the baby’s brain is shaped by the presence of different stimuli around it. The first four years of life are a period when the skills of understanding speech and expressing emotions can be acquired most efficiently. We call this process the ‘critical period of learning to speak’. In the developing brain of the baby, centers related to the basic skills that make human beings such as talking and walking need to be developed early.
“WEAKNESS AND LACK OF ATTENTION CAN BE SEEN IN LEARNING LANGUAGE”
However, nowadays, with the effect of the pandemic, the increase in the use of technological tools for educational purposes and the increase in the use of technological tools and increasing addiction, Prof. Dr. Şerbetçioğlu continued as follows:
“Scientific research has started to examine the effects of digital technologies on the language development of babies, especially since 2000. 68 percent of children under the age of four use screen media such as television, mobile phone, DVD and video game daily. According to researches, it was observed that when encountering digital screen images in the first 4-5 years of age, it causes weakness in language learning, attention deficit and social isolation problems. As it is known, a happy and successful child grows up in a happy family environment. No matter how young a baby is, he shows interest in the cell phone he often sees around him. The mother can start to enchant her baby with moving images by watching cartoons or animated videos so that the mother can eat easily through trial and error. If the mother compares her baby with a mobile phone so that she can leave her alone or easily put two or three tablespoons of food into her mouth, this picture can put a socially extroverted baby in an asocial state at an early age. No mother can predict that her very young child may develop cell phone or screen addiction. In this way, we encounter children who have atypical autistic appearance due to encountering animation instead of warm social communication environment in clinics in medical practice. It is a substitute for medicine to keep these children away from the screen and send them to nurseries to socialize. “
“DIGITAL ADDICTION IS SET IN BABY TODAY”
Prof. Dr. Noting that digital addiction can settle at a very early age, Şerbetçioğlu made the following assessment:
“Considering that drug addiction begins in adolescence in our country, we have to admit that digital technology addiction is established at a much earlier age. In other words, digital technology addiction settles at a very early age, in infancy. In a period when he is ready to learn to speak, we should not direct our baby to the easy skills of digital technology. Otherwise, we are encouraging the addiction to digital technology by eliminating the need to learn to speak early and verbal communication. Especially in the first 12 months, the neurons and synaptic connections of the brain develop thanks to the two most basic motor skills for talking and walking. Then within four years, we need to direct it to verbal communication, walking and all kinds of physical activity so that he can learn to speak. Digital technology addiction that develops in such an early period brings with it the risk of causing obesity and difficulties in verbal communication, together with an increase in body mass index.
“ATYPICAL AUTISM IS VISIBLE”
Prof. Dr. Şerbetçioğlu pointed out that until recently, babies grew up by playing face-to-face games thanks to their growing up in natural environments, and used the following statements:
“In babies who are introduced to technology at a very early stage, the ability to passively watch the moving images on the screen or manipulate the images with a finger comes to the fore instead of these basic skills. Today, this kind of screen addiction has proven to be an unhealthy habit. At the same time, it is observed that excessive media use at an early age negatively affects their emotional development by reducing the amount and quality of verbal communication between parents and children. Frequent use of electronic devices in the family can hinder the skills of young children, such as speaking, social skills, and empathy, which can only be acquired by communicating face to face. We observe the effects of adverse environmental conditions in some of the children with communication disruption, which can be defined as “atypical autism” in our patients in ENT and audiology clinics. As a result, when we bring our children together with digital technology before the age of 3-4, it may be that our child becomes dependent on visual media. Thus, giving an infant the ability to use digital technology, who is not even clear how to speak, can negatively affect his mental development as well as addiction. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents not to expose their children aged 3 and under to social media and screens. “