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Today’s children and adolescents are growing up immersed in media. Today’s media includes television and movies that are broadcasted and streamed, video games that are active and stationary, and social and interactive media such as Facebook.
Problems begin when media displaces physical activity and face-to-face social interaction. Too much screen time can also harm the amount and quality of sleep which is critical to learning.
Common Sense Media reported that children up to age 8 spend an average of 2 hours and 19 minutes every day on screen media. TV and video viewing alone take up 72% of all screen time. For 8- to 12-year-olds, the average time spent using screen media every day was 4 hours and 36 minutes. Tweens spent an average of 4½ hours per day with screen media and 6 hours with all media, including reading and listening to music. Boys spend more time playing console video games, while girls spend more time on music and social media. Mobile devices accounted for 41% of all screen time among tweens.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:
For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.
For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health. Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.
The Academy says that screen media use should not interfere with children’s sleep and exercise routines. It urges parents to ensure that their children have media-free times with the family in designated media-free areas of the home. Parents can develop a personalized media plan for their children. American Academy of Pediatrics healthychildren.org has a Create your Family Media Use Plan here site2. Based upon your child’s age, health, personality, and developmental stage, a plan maybe created that can be used by grandparents or babysitters such that media rules are followed consistently.
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