Pediatricians to Parents: Kids Need a Media Diet

8 year old girl on cellphone

America’s pediatricians have an order for parents: get a handle on how your children are using media.

Kids are certainly getting their fill of texting, online games, social media and YouTube videos. The average 8-year-old now spends almost 8 hours a day on screens of various sizes.  Make that 11 hours for teenagers.

But a new statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics warns too much screen time can “contribute substantially to many risks and health problems” ranging from disrupted sleep to substance abuse to weight increase.

Doctors worry if kids overdose on technology, there’s no time for anything else, such as playing outside. That’s why some pediatricians prescribe nature to their patients, especially those with conditions like type 2 diabetes, depression and anxiety.

For kids 2 years and younger, the new policy advises keeping media exposure to a bare minimum. That is right in line with The Durable Human Manifesto’s  philosophy that little kids need to get to know their own operating systems before they’re introduced to others.

The AAP’s top 3 rules for all other kids, including teenagers:

  • Limit screen time not related to homework to 2 hours per day.
  • Keep TV and Internet-connected electronic devices out of the bedroom.
  • Monitor the Web and social media sites your child visits.

But there’s so much to keep track of.

Gone are the simple days when all a parent had to worry about were Facebook and Instagram.  Now, new Web and social media sites seem to pop up every day. Try as they might, parents are finding it tough to keep tabs on everything their children can do online, with sometimes tragic results.

Digital devices themselves are confusing. My cousin thought she was holding the line on her 10-year-old’s media use by getting her an iTouch instead of a cellphone, not realizing she could talk with her friends on Face Time and go anywhere she wanted on the Internet.

Despite the fact it’s been decades since the dawn of the Internet, a lot of us apparently have not stepped up our parenting game in the tech department. As it says in the policy statement, “two-thirds of children and teenagers report their parents have ‘no rules’ about time spent with media.”

That’s why I’m going to this year’s Family Online Safety Institute annual conference. Somebody there must have some ideas for good parental planning.  I’ll let you know what happens.

Learn more about the author of this post on Google+  You can download The Durable Human Manifesto for free online or for sale in print.

 

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