The OECD published a final report on the impact of the use of technology on the brain, cognition and well-being in children


In its report, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reviewed the existing scientific literature on the effect of the use of technology on children's brains and their emotional, social, cognitive, and physical development. In addition, the report examined whether national guidelines and existing recommendations in different countries are based on accumulated scientific knowledge.

According to the report, in view of the increased use of technology by children, they should be protected from risks associated with its use, and best use habits should be promoted to generate benefits from the use of technology that contributes to child development. In order to better understand how technology and media affect the brain and body, and therefore, to formulate a policy of safe and effective use, policymakers should examine the most up-to-date and qualitative research available.

The report reviewed the existing literature on children's use of technology and, inter alia, the following issues:

  • The influence of television/video games/social media on cognition and well-being
  • The effects  of screen time in relation to sleep, stress, obesity, and posture problems
  • Risks related to radiation exposure from cell phones 


In the conclusion of the report, it is pointed that  based on the reviewed literature, the correlations between technology use and child outcomes is not clear, and thus more quality research is needed to better understand the impact of technology on children, and support the development of effective, evidence-based guidelines.


A review of the research literature indicates a number of risks and advantages associated with use. In some areas of research on the use of technology by children, cogent and consistent studies have been found, such as the effect on sleep. It was found that blue light influences the production of melatonin and can affect sleep. Restricting access to blue light before bedtime or using blue light blocking glasses was suggested as a limiting measure. However, in other areas, the conclusions were not uniform or the research was still in its early stages and thus guidelines or recommendations could not be derived from it. Examples include the relation between the use of technology and cognitive/behavioral problems (such as concentration problems), the relation between the use of technology and changes in the structure of the child's brain, and the relation between use and addiction.


The report identifies the areas requiring further research in the future and the challenges existing in current studies, such as: lack of qualitative and consistent research, reliance on self-reporting, small sampling, and large focus on negative effects of technology without balancing in examining possible positive outcomes.

Regarding existing guidelines for screen time in children in the world, the authors conclude that updated and established guidelines are needed. Generally, existing guidelines in different countries focus on screen time constraints and are part of the guidelines for physical activity and child sedentary behavior (screen time "captures" the time of another activity that is less sedentary or more productive).

According to the report, existing screen time guidelines that focus on limiting exposure time may not take into account subtleties related to how/what for/when children and adolescents use technology and what types of screens are used throughout the day. It is important to determine recommendations based on established scientific knowledge that take into account other risk factors such as cyberbullying and inappropriate content, and on the other hand refer to advantages such as digital skill acquisition.


According to the authors of the report, educators, parents and professionals should:

  • Be aware about "screen time" and its consequences for activities essential for child health (exercise, meal time, sleep)
  • Set a time frame for using the screen (restricting the use of devices emitting blue light about the time of sleep)
  • Ensure appropriate content for young children