Scholars Week University Presentation Showcase: Studying Effects of Screen Time on Children

Published on April 11, 2022

While Anne Goodman knew that a lot of young children tend to spend a great deal of time in front of the television, what she didn’t know was that binge watching a favorite show can mimic the effects of drug use on a child’s brain. 

“Excessive screen usage sets up the same pathways of addiction as heroin would,” she said. “Yet, kids are spending an enormous amount of time on screen with little regard to the effect it is having.” 

Goodman, a public health senior from Lexington, will join more than 100 students displaying their research studies during EKU’s annual Scholars Week University Presentation Showcase, held Wednesday, April 13, from 2:30 to 4:15 in the Keen Johnson building.

Her needs assessment study in this area indicates that children who sit in front of screens can develop behavioral problems, struggle with attention and focus and have a higher likelihood of obesity. 

Additionally, Goodman discovered that most of the information presented on television – even so-called “educational programming” – is not retained once the program ends. 

“It takes children longer to learn from screens than it does for them to learn from one-on-one interaction,” she said.

She hopes to take her research and develop a program that will eventually partner with pediatricians across the Commonwealth, local health departments and organizations that work with children, such as the Boys and Girls Club. She knows the program will be useful. 

“I think that screen time with kids has become so common, but so have behavioral problems and kids struggling in school,” she said. “There is not another program like this in the state, or in the nation. Only 51 percent of Kentucky children are kindergarten ready and only 15 percent of Kentucky school-age children have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). I feel like parents are not fully aware of the dangers of excessive screen time, and I would really like to change that.” 

For Goodman, the research is also personal.

“As a parent myself, I wish I had been educated by my son’s pediatrician, instead of only being told to limit it to two hours,” she said. 

Goodman credits her mentor, Dr. Julie Lasslo from the Department of Public Health, for assisting her with her study. 

She plans to begin graduate studies at EKU in the fall, eventually earning a doctorate and becoming a public health professor. 

“I want to help educate people on how important public health is,” Goodman said, hoping to continue her research in this area and perhaps taking it past the Commonwealth of Kentucky to the federal level.