More on Children and Media

young child w ipad.jpgIt’s been five years since the American Academy of Pediatricians issued their position statement asking parents to limit screen time for children and not to have any for children under two years of age–and no televisions in children’s rooms. On October 28 (2013) they issued an updated statement that also addressed the rapid rise in mobile apps that children are using.

At the same time, a nationally based survey from the nonprofit advocacy group Common Sense Media, showed that 72% of children ages 8 and under have used a mobile device for some type of media activity such as playing games, watching videos or using apps, up from 38% just two years ago. And 17% of these young children use a mobile device on a daily basis.

Other findings in these documents include:
• The average 8- to 10-year-old spends nearly eight hours a day with a variety of media; older children and teens spend more than 11 hours a day.
• The presence of a television set in a child’s bedroom increases TV viewing even more, and 71% of children and teens report having a TV in their bedroom; 50% have a console video game player in their room.
• Nearly all children and teens (84%) are on-line; about 75% of 12- to 17-year-olds have a cellphone, up from 45% in 2004; 88% use text messaging.

Victor Strasburger, professor of pediatrics at the University of New Mexico and co-author of the AAP policy statement, said that 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 documents recommend that parents monitor children’s media use and develop a plan for healthy use (as well as modeling discriminating behavior). They also recommend: 1) that pediatricians ask at well-child visits how much time a child is spending with media and if there is a TV or internet-connected device in the child’s bedroom; and 2) that they take a more detailed media history with children or teens at risk for obesity, aggression, tobacco or substance use, or school problems.
Based on articles in USA Today online, Oct. 28, 2013.

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