Tune in to Kids’ Screen Time
Maybe your kids have figured out that too much TV won’t actually make their eyes turn square.
But with cellphones and handheld devices joining the ranks of the usual screen time suspects—television, computers, and video games—parents need to remain vigilant about their children’s electronic media use.
Excessive screen time can lead to a myriad of issues, such as attention problems, difficulties in school, sleep disorders, and obesity. And if mom or dad isn’t paying close attention, the effects can worsen.
A new study
from the Oregon Social Learning Center showed that children whose media use was not monitored by their parents gained more weight than children whose parents were paying closer attention. The study tracked 213 children over four years.
But there are several recommendations from the American Association of Pediatrics that can help curb a child’s screen time, says UR Medicine pediatrician Dr. Stephen Cook.
Limit your children to one to two hours of electronic media per day. This includes television, computers, video games, cellphones, and other electronic devices. Infants and toddlers should not have any screen time at all.
Create a few “screen-free zones” around the house. These areas, where television, computer, and cellphone use is not allowed, can include the dinner table and a child’s bedroom.
Encourage children to spend time playing outside, reading, and using their imaginations.
When they are using electronic media, monitor the content. Children should be watching high-quality, educational, nonviolent programming.
Stephen Cook, M.D., M.P.H., is an associate professor of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center and the Center for Community Health. He sees patients as part of the general pediatric practice at UR Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital.