WEDNESDAY, Oct. 13 (HealthDay News) -- 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, compared to an average of three hours a day watching
TV in 1999, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics
Parents, physicians and educators need to understand the effects
of this increasing exposure to media and educate youngsters about
media use, the academy said in an updated AAP policy statement
released online in advance of publication in the November print
issue of the journal
The statement listed several concerns:
- Excessive time spent using electronic media leaves less time
for physical activity or creative and social pursuits.
- Violent or sexual content can have harmful effects, as can
movies or programs that glamorize alcohol and tobacco use.
- Research has shown that high levels of media use are associated
with school problems, attention difficulties, sleep and eating
disorders, and obesity.
- The Internet and cell phones have become major new sources and
platforms for illicit and risky behaviors.
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, pediatricians should ask at least two
media-related questions. Is there a TV set or Internet access in
the child's room? How much entertainment media is the child
watching? 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
- 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
In addition, the experts added, "simply reducing children's and
adolescents' screen media use has been shown conclusively to have
beneficial health effects."
The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry has
children and the Internet.