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.
- “One study found 20% of adolescents either sent or received a sexually explicit image by cell phone or the internet.” (2)
And most importantly, they noted that teenagers are avid multitaskers. They use several technologies at once but they are not efficient multitaskers. For example, when teenagers drive and text at the same time, they end up doing both poorly.
The AAP recommended that parents:
1) Limit the amount of screen time for kids to less than one or two hours a day and no time allowed for children under the age of two.
2) Keep TV sets and internet connected devices out of the children’s bedroom so parents can see what is being watched.
3) Parents should monitor what media choices their children are using.
4) Parents should view movies, videos or TV choices with their children and use this time as an opportunity to discuss family values.
5) Parents should enforce a mealtime and evening time “curfew” so devices are turned off as part of a family media use plan.
In order for all family members to benefit, a reasonable but firm set of rules that also includes parents' use of media should be included.
(1) Pediatricians call for limits on kids' screen time. Reuter’s. BY GENEVRA PITTMAN NEW YORK Mon Oct 28, 2013. Retrieved November 9, 2013.
(2)Policy Statement: Children, Adolescents, and the Media. From the American Academy of Pediatrics. COUNCIL ON COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA. Originally Published online October 28, 2013(doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-2656) Retrieved November 9, 2013.
Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele are at www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles
Edited by Jody Smith