I was in Orlando last week speaking at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) national conference. It is a great time to learn from the many teaching sessions going on all day on every pediatric topic you can imagine. While I was there, the Council on Communications and Media (of which I am a member) released a policy statement entitled, “Children, Adolescents, and the Media”.
As you are well aware, as technology continues to grow it is penetrating our lives as well as our children’s. According to recent data, the average 8-10 year old spend nearly 8 hours a day with a variety of different media (TV, cell phones, I pads and online social media), while older children and teens spend > 11 hours/day.
Many children from 1st through 12th grades are now being given laptop computers or I-pads from their school, which are used throughout their school day, as well as for homework. This alone means a child is “online” for at least 6-8 hours/day before they even sit down to watch TV.
One thing is certain, having a TV in a child’s room only increases the amount of time a child spends watching TV, and 71% of children and teens report having a TV in their rooms. I have been routinely asking about TV’s in children’s rooms for the past 5 years and I think I have been successful in getting some parents to re-think putting a TV in a child’s bedroom. I also tell all of my patients that they “may have a TV in their room”, and their eyes get big, and the next line is “when you go to college!”
The AAP recommends limiting “screen time” to < 2 hours per day and discourages media exposure for children < 2 years of age. This means that parents need to have discussions with their children about having a “healthy media diet” and to be “healthy consumers of media”. This also means that parents need to model the behavior they want to see in their children, in other words, less on screen time for parents as well.
I am sitting by the fire writing this while watching my 23 year old son engaged on his iPhone. Time for both of us to turn off media and talk. I am trying as well.