Too many kids glued to TV and computer screens

Too many kids glued to TV and computer screens | Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital.

July 26, 2014—The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises limiting kids’ entertainment screen time to less than one to two hours each day.

But only 27 percent of kids surveyed as part of a government study reported spending less than two hours each day watching TV and using computers outside of school. On the other end of the spectrum, 6.9 percent of the kids reported watching TV for five or more hours every day, and 5.1 percent used their computers for five or more hours daily.

About the study

The study’s findings are based on 2012 data from two national surveys of children aged 12 to 15 analyzed by researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics.

In addition to uncovering the fact that most kids were consuming too much media, the researchers reported that the weight of the kids surveyed was tied to the number of hours they spent in front of screens. Only 20 percent of obese kids kept their daily screen time to two hours or less, compared to 23.1 percent of overweight kids and 30.6 percent of kids who were underweight or normal-weight.

Learn more study details here.


The take-home message
Screen time—whether it involves TVs and computers or even smartphones—isn’t all bad, the AAP acknowledges. A high-quality TV program or website, for example, can help kids learn.

But daily screen time in excess of two hours has been linked to all sorts of problems, including obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, as well as lost sleep, aggression and problems at school.

Because of those concerns, it’s important to have clear family rules about screen time and media use, the AAP cautions. And these rules should do more than limit the hours a child spends in front of a screen. They should also take into account the specifics of the content children are exposed to.

These guidelines from the AAP may help you to make good choices for your family:

  • Limit daily screen time to under two hours. Kids under two years old are better off without any screen time at all. Children this young need unstructured play and time with people—not screens—to thrive.
  • Keep TVs and computers out of kids’ bedrooms. Computers should also be in a public part of your home so that you can check on your child’s media diet.
  • Establish a “media curfew” for mealtime and bedtime. Turn off—or put away—all devices.
  • Help your child make healthy media choices. Look for content that is educational and teaches good values, such as empathy.
  • Don’t let your child watch content that isn’t age-appropriate, especially when it comes to sex, violence and drugs. Be firm.
  • Watch programming with your child. Then discuss it and make your values known.
  • Become familiar with social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. You might even create your own profile on sites your child uses and connect with your child on those sites.

For more articles you can use to boost your parenting skills, click here.

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