Reducing kids' screen time starts with grownups

Partners Post, December 2015

Student Screen TimeWe've all been there. Some household chore needs to be done, but a child is demanding our attention. Fire up the iPad or turn on the TV, and the child is silently staring into the warm glow of a screen.

The problem is that as tablets, smartphones, and gaming devices become ever-present in our lives, more and more children are spending too much time in front of those screens.

As Jane E. Brody wrote at The New York Times' Well Blog in July, "While Internet addiction is not yet considered a clinical diagnosis here, there's no question that American youths are plugged in and tuned out of 'live' action for many more hours of the day than experts consider healthy for normal development."

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends parents model effective "media diets," including co-viewing programs with children and creating media use plans that set mealtime and bedtime curfews for devices. Entertainment screen time should be kept to less than one or two hours per day, and screens should be kept out of kids' bedrooms. Children under 2 should not have screen media exposure.

Parents are in the best position to curb their children's screen time by modeling good behaviors themselves.

"Young children learn by example, often copying the behavior of adults," Brody wrote at the Well Blog. "I often see youngsters in strollers or on foot with a parent or caretaker who is chatting or texting on a cellphone instead of conversing with the children in their charge."



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