Doctors Recommend Parents to Limit Children’s Online Use
The Internet and social media have become vital parts in almost everyone's lives. Several studies have found that these outlets can get people to quit certain habits, such as smoking because media outlets become one's support group. Despite these studies, other research has reported that increased screen media time for young children might be detrimental to the children's physical and mental health. In a new and revised policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is now recommending that parents create a media use plan for their children so that children are not staring at a screen all day long.
"We are worried that a lot of parents are clueless about their kids' media use and how to manage it appropriately," explained Victor Strasburger, a professor of pediatrics at the University of New Mexico, reported by USA Today. Strasburger co-authored the new statement. "[The children are] spending more time with media than they are in school. They are spending more time with media than in any activity other than sleeping. You could make the argument that media have taken over the primary role of teaching kids from schools and parents in many cases."
The recommendation informs parents to consider a plan that takes multiple factors into account. These factors include the number of devices available to children, the quality of those devices, the locations of the media, and the significance of mealtime and bedtime curfew. The AAP also stressed the importance of keeping all screen media, such as televisions and computers, outside of the bedroom. Studies have found that screen media can disrupt sleep and losing sleep can lead to impaired cognitive functions the following day.
Even though the AAP wants parents to design plans that work for their families, the AAP believes that parents should ideally limit total entertainment screen time to less than two hours per day. The academy also recommends no screen media time for children under two-years-old. The authors remind parents that children will follow their lead on media time and so it is important to teach children how to use media appropriately. Parents should also monitor what their children do online.
The statement also reported findings regarding screen media usage. The authors stated that the average eight- to 10-year-old is in front of some kind of media nearly eight hours a day. For kids over 10, media use is well over 11 hours per day. For televisions specifically, the authors found that 71 percent of children and teenagers stated that they have a television in their rooms. 50 percent had a video game console as well. Furthermore, around 84 percent of children between 12- and 17-years-old have a cellphone now in comparison to only 45 percent in 2004. 88 percent of them utilize text messaging.
"Media can be good or bad," stated Stragburger. "There's some extraordinarily good media out there. It's a matter of finding the right stuff for the right aged child or teen and limiting access to inappropriate media."
The statement also presented some recommendations for pediatricians. The authors stated that pediatricians should also ask children and parents about their media use time. This information will give them a better understanding of the children's risk factors for smoking, drinking, obesity or academic problems.
The policy statement was released today at the group's national conference in Orlando, FL.