Think for a moment. How much time does your child spend staring at a screen? Not just watching TV, but playing video games, texting on their phone and hanging around Facebook or other social media sites.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on Communications and Media has released a statement that parents should make a “media use plan” that limits kids' screen time to one or two hours a day.
Children under two years old should not be watching TV or other screens for any allotted amount of time.
Excessive use of TV and other media has been connected to obesity, sleep and school problems and aggression, reported Reuters.
"We're not media-bashers," Dr. Marjorie Hogan, one of the statement's lead authors, said. "We love media." It's just that the AAP would like to see media used in positive ways.
The policy statement is based on the AAP's observations and concerns formed over the last three decades. Children and teenagers spend too much time using media and some of the choices that are violent, show substance abuse, and have sexual content, are not appropriate.
At the same time, Hogan expressed the view that other more educational choices such as Sesame Street teach about racial and ethnic empathy. These are valuable lessons which can be learned through media.
She recognizes that for teens, being connected to your peer group is very important and can be a positive thing.
The AAP policy statement pointed out some interesting results from recent studies they reviewed:
- The average 8-10 year old spends nearly 8 hours a day using various forms of electronic media, and older kids and teens spend upward from 11 hours per a day.
- TV is the main source of screen time, for greater than four hours a day. One-third of TV viewing time is done on computers, ipads or cell phones.
- About 75 percent of 12-17 year olds now own cell phones, which is up from 45 percent in 2004.
- Nearly all teens use text messaging, about 88 percent. Teens actually talk less on their phones than every other age group except seniors.
-50 percent of teens send 50 or more text messages a day and one-third send more than 100 a day.