Answered By: Linda Kern Last Updated: Dec 12, 2016 Views: 26
The first search is a philosophical question which would take a great deal of time to research and answer using scholarly literature. I suggest you stick with the second.
The best set of results comes from ScienceDirect. The drawback to ScienceDirect is that it has a wonky way of telling you whether the full text is available. In the results, read the article title and then look to the right. You'll see a little box with lines through it. If the lines are green or orange you can get to the full text. If the lines are black, or there are no lines, there's no full text. There's no way to limit the results to just the full text articles. But bear with it, because it has good articles.
I searched "screen time" AND "attention span", limiting to the last 10 years. The quotation marks in the search term help to focus the results, so be sure to use them. You don't have to limit to scholarly articles, because everything in ScienceDirect is scholarly. For example, I found Effects of Internet use on the adolescent brain: despite popular claims, experimental evidence remains scarce. This article highlights a phenomenon: sometimes the popular press gloms on to topics that aren't extensively researched. But I also found some research: Is the ‘Idiot's Box’ raising idiocy? Early and middle childhood television watching and child cognitive outcome.
Changing the search to "screen time" AND "cognitive ability" yielded another good article buried deep in the results: Babies, television and videos: How did we get here?.
Changing the search to television AND "attention span" yielded a lot of articles including Growing up multitasking: The costs and benefits for cognitive development. There is also Mind-altering media and possibly Video Games: Good, Bad, or Other?, along with others.
In Research Library, I searched "screen time" AND cognition and found Into the Minds of Babes: How Screen Time Affects Children from Birth to Age Five.
Thanks for asking a librarian!