Child experts have issued an updated policy statement on use of electronic media for entertainment by kids. This is critical because children and teens in the United States spend an average of seven hours A DAY using television, computers, phones and other electronic devices for entertainment (compare this to the average of three hours a day watching TV in 1999). Parents, physicians, and educators need to understand the effects of this increasing exposure to media and educate youngsters about media use according to the American Academy of Pediatrics in the updated policy statement. Here are more details from HealthDay News:
The AAP statement lists several concerns:
However, educating children about media can help reduce harmful effects, and careful selection of media can help children learn, the AAP said. Along with longstanding advice about limiting, planning and supervising children’s media use, the group’s updated policy statement includes a number of new recommendations:
At each office visit, doctors who care for children should ask at least two media-related questions:
The AAP recommends children have less than two hours of screen time per day. Before 2 years old, viewing should be avoided altogether, it says. Parents need to be good media-user role models, encourage alternate activities, and make children’s bedrooms electronic media-free areas.
Schools should offer media education and Congress should consider funding media education in schools. The federal government and private foundations should boost their funding for media research.
The statement authors concluded that “a media-educated person will be able to limit his or her use of media; make positive media choices; select creative alternatives to media consumption; develop critical thinking and viewing skills; and understand the political, social, economic and emotional implications of all forms of media. Results of recent research suggest that media education may make young people less vulnerable to negative aspects of media exposure.”
In addition, the experts added, “simply reducing children’s and adolescents’ screen media use has been shown conclusively to have beneficial health effects.”