The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a statement today (Oct. 28) in the journal Pediatrics that children should be limited to less than two hours of entertainment-based screen time per day and shouldn’t have TVs or Internet access in their bedrooms, according to new guidelines from pediatricians.
This isn’t unlike statements they have made before about limiting screen time to under two hours, but they’ve updated their statements to include all forms of “screen media” like smart phones, tablets, TV, video games, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
In today’s society we are a nation of technology consumers, to say the least. At this very moment my three kids are playing a video game together, I’m blogging and my husband is in his office on a computer as well. Many of the things I do in my free time do include a screen. I don’t read the “paper” but I read the news daily in online magazines and newspaper sites, I also sometimes read my books on a kindle and we often google my kid’s homework if we don’t know what we are doing or look up recipes for dinner. You know how it is, tablets and such are a big part of our lives. I probably don’t limit their (and mine) screen times as much as I should. This is all not to mention the newly added screen time they experience at school. They now learn daily on smart boards, iPads and computers in the classroom. So even though they may only play video games for an hour or watch a movie at home, they are still on screens throughout the day both in school and then at home. My kids have even said that they often don’t go outside during the school day, but get to play iPads instead during “recess” at school. (Don’t get me started on how ridiculous that is).
According to the AAP, an average 8-year-old spends eight hours a day using various forms of media, and teenagers often surpass 11 hours of media consumption daily. Now, THAT is astonishing! Many teens and pre-teens have cellphones or iPads and iPod touches and kids ages 13 to 17 send an average of 3,364 texts per month. As bad as I feel that I don’t limit my kid’s media consumption enough, I can safely say that we are below average according to those stats.
In addition to the guidelines for kids, the AAP says that children under 2 should get zero screen time at all. (Now who hasn’t put their baby in a swing for ten minutes with Baby Einstein in front of them for ten minutes while mom gets to take a quick shower or go to the bathroom?) Oops.
Unlike the old guidelines, the AAP does recognize the benefits of educational media such as Sesame Street, but they warn against kids being able to view inappropriate shows and teens having free-reign of the internet.
What do you think? Do you limit your kid’s screen time and do you even know how much time they spend on media devices at school? Is two hours a time that you can stick to for your kids? I do worry about my kid’s screen time and I worry about things like eye strain, carpel tunnel type injuries or them being constantly overstimulated by flashy screens that will cause boredom when they play with non technology things. I also worry about dumbing them down, because they stop using their actual thinking power when everything is autocorrected for them. This happens to me when I use the GPS in the car. I stop actually thinking about the directions and just follow the prescribed route. I have also noticed with my own increased use of autocorrect, I rely on it to help me spell words that I may have actually had to think about how to spell it in the past. I really think sometimes it’s good to be reminded that we need to keep a balance in our lives and make sure we use technology (because hey, it’s awesome and I don’t believe to be completely inherently bad), but don’t overuse it where it becomes a problem.