American Academy of Pediatrics policy: Kids need to go on a media diet

28 Oct

Andrew Stevensen wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald article, The screens that are stealing childhood:

Australians have smartphones and tablet computers gripped in their sweaty embrace, adopting the new internet-enabled technology as the standard operating platform for their lives, at work, home and play.
But it is not only adults who are on the iWay to permanent connection. As parents readily testify, many children don’t just use the devices, they are consumed by them.
”These devices have an almost obsessive pull towards them,” says Larry Rosen, professor of psychology at California State University and author of iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming its Hold on Us.
”How can you expect the world to compete with something like an iPad3 with a high-definition screen, clear video and lots of interactivity? How can anything compete with that? There’s certainly no toy that can.
”Even old people like me can’t stop themselves from tapping their pocket to make sure their iPhone is there. Imagine a teenager, even a pre-teen, who’s grown up with these devices attached at the hip 24/7 and you end up with what I think is a problem.”
The technology has been absorbed so comprehensively that the jury on the potential impact on young people is not just out, it’s yet to be empanelled.
”The million-dollar question is whether there are risks in the transfer of real time to online time and the answer is that we just don’t know,” says Andrew Campbell, a child and adolescent psychologist….
Authoritative standards on appropriate levels of use are limited. The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends parents discourage TV for children under two and limit screen time for older children to less than two hours a day.
The guidelines, says Professor Rosen, are ”ludicrous” but the need for them and constant communication with young people about technology and how they use it, remains. ”It’s no longer OK to start talking to your kids about technology when they’re in their teens. You have to start talking to them about it as soon as you hand them your iPhone or let them watch television or Skype with grandma,” he says.
He suggests a ratio of screen time to other activities of 1:5 for very young children, 1:1 for pre-teens and 5:1 for teenagers. Parents should have weekly talks with their children from the start, looking for signs of obsession, addiction and lack of attention. http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/the-screens-that-are-stealing-childhood-20120528-1zffr.html

See, Technology Could Lead to Overstimulation in Kids http://www.educationnews.org/parenting/technology-could-lead-to-overstimulation-in-kids/

Lindsey Tanner of AP wrote in the article, Docs To Parents: Limit Kids’ Texts, Tweets, Online:

Doctors 2 parents: Limit kids’ tweeting, texting & keep smartphones, laptops out of bedrooms. #goodluckwiththat.
The recommendations are bound to prompt eye-rolling and LOLs from many teens but an influential pediatricians group says parents need to know that unrestricted media use can have serious consequences.
It’s been linked with violence, cyberbullying, school woes, obesity, lack of sleep and a host of other problems. It’s not a major cause of these troubles, but “many parents are clueless” about the profound impact media exposure can have on their children, said Dr. Victor Strasburger, lead author of the new American Academy of Pediatrics policy
“This is the 21st century and they need to get with it,” said Strasburger, a University of New Mexico adolescent medicine specialist.
The policy is aimed at all kids, including those who use smartphones, computers and other Internet-connected devices. It expands the academy’s longstanding recommendations on banning televisions from children’s and teens’ bedrooms and limiting entertainment screen time to no more than two hours daily.
Under the new policy, those two hours include using the Internet for entertainment, including Facebook, Twitter, TV and movies; online homework is an exception.
The policy statement cites a 2010 report that found U.S. children aged 8 to 18 spend an average of more than seven hours daily using some kind of entertainment media. Many kids now watch TV online and many send text messages from their bedrooms after “lights out,” including sexually explicit images by cellphone or Internet, yet few parents set rules about media use, the policy says….
The policy notes that three-quarters of kids aged 12 to 17 own cellphones; nearly all teens send text messages, and many younger kids have phones giving them online access.
“Young people now spend more time with media than they do in school — it is the leading activity for children and teenagers other than sleeping” the policy says…
.”
Strasburger said he realizes many kids will scoff at advice from pediatricians — or any adults.
“After all, they’re the experts! We’re media-Neanderthals to them,” he said. But he said he hopes it will lead to more limits from parents and schools, and more government research on the effects of media.
The policy was published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics. It comes two weeks after police arrested two Florida girls accused of bullying a classmate who committed suicide. Police say one of the girls recently boasted online about the bullying and the local sheriff questioned why the suspects’ parents hadn’t restricted their Internet use….
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/28/doctors-kids-media-use_n_4170182.html?utm_hp_ref=@education123

Here is the press release:

Managing Media: We Need a Plan
10/28/2013

American Academy of Pediatrics offers guidance on managing children’s and adolescents’ media use

ORLANDO, Fla. — From TV to smart phones to social media, the lives of U.S. children and families are dominated by 24/7 media exposure. Despite this, many children and teens have few rules around their media use. According to a revised policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “Children, Adolescents and the Media,” released Oct. 28 at the AAP National Conference & Exhibition in Orlando, the digital age is the ideal time to change the way we address media use.

While media by itself is not the leading cause of any health problem in the U.S., it can contribute to numerous health risks. At the same time, kids can learn many positive things from pro-social media.
“A healthy approach to children’s media use should both minimize potential health risks and foster appropriate and positive media use—in other words, it should promote a healthy ‘media diet’,” said Marjorie Hogan, MD, FAAP, co-author of the AAP policy. “Parents, educators and pediatricians should participate in media education, which means teaching children and adolescents how to make good choices in their media consumption .”

Dr. Hogan will describe the recommendations in the policy statement in a news briefing at 9:30 a.m. ET Oct. 28 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Reporters wishing to cover the briefing should first check in at the press room, W203B, for media credentials. The policy statement will be published online Oct. 28 in Pediatrics and will be included in the November 2013 issue of the journal. The policy statement replaces one issued in 2001.

The AAP advocates for better and more research about how media affects youth. Excessive media use has been associated with obesity, lack of sleep, school problems, aggression and other behavior issues. A recent study shows that the average 8- to 10-year-old spends nearly 8 hours a day with different media, and older children and teens spend more than 11 hours per day. Kids who have a TV in their bedroom spend more time with media. About 75 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds own cell phones, and nearly all teenagers use text messaging.

The amount of time spent with screens is one issue, and content is another. On the positive side, pro-social media not only can help children and teens learn facts, but it can also help teach empathy, racial and ethnic tolerance, and a whole range of interpersonal skills.

Pediatricians care about what kids are viewing, how much time they are spending with media, and privacy and safety issues with the Internet.

“For nearly three decades, the AAP has expressed concerns about the amount of time that children and teen-agers spend with media, and about some of the content they are viewing,” said Victor Strasburger, MD, FAAP, co-author of the report. “The digital age has only made these issues more pressing.”

The AAP policy statement offers recommendations for parents and pediatricians, including:
For Parents:
• Parents can model effective “media diets” to help their children learn to be selective and healthy in what they consume. Take an active role in children’s media education by co-viewing programs with them and discussing values.

• Make a media use plan, including mealtime and bedtime curfews for media devices. Screens should be kept out of kids’ bedrooms.

• Limit entertainment screen time to less than one or two hours per day; in children under 2, discourage screen media exposure.
For Pediatricians:
• Pediatricians should ask two questions at the well-child visit: How much time is the child spending with media? Is there a television and/or Internet-connected device in the child’s bedroom? Take a more detailed media history with children or teens at risk for obesity, aggression, tobacco or substance use, or school problems.

• Work with schools to encourage media education; encourage innovative use of technology to help students learn; and to have rules about what content may be accessed on devices in the classroom.

• Challenge the entertainment industry to create positive content for children and teens, and advocate for strong rules about how products are marketed to youth.

• As the media landscape continues to evolve at a rapid pace, the AAP calls for a federal report on what is known about the media’s effects on youth and what research needs to be conducted. The AAP calls for an ongoing mechanism to fund research about media’s effects.
Editor’s Note: More information and recommendations from the AAP about the effects of media on youth may be found in additional AAP statements, available in the media kit on children and media.
More information for parents on creating a family media use plan is available on HealthyChildren.org.

– See more at: http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/Managing-Media-We-Need-a-Plan.aspx#sthash.k3nYMvmO.dpuf

Helpguide.Org http://www.helpguide.org/mental/internet_cybersex_addiction.htm has a good article on treating internet addiction in teens. Among their suggestions are:

It’s a fine line as a parent. If you severely limit a child or teen’s Internet use, they might rebel and go to excess. But you can and should model appropriate computer use, supervise computer activity and get your child help if he or she needs it. If your child or teen is showing signs of Internet addiction, there are many things that you as a parent can do to help:
o Encourage other interests and social activities. Get your child out from behind the computer screen. Expose kids to other hobbies and activities, such as team sports, Boy or Girl Scouts, and afterschool clubs.
o Monitor computer use and set clear limits. Make sure the computer is in a common area of the house where you can keep an eye on your child’s online activity, and limit time online, waiting until homework and chores are done. This will be most effective if you as parents follow suit. If you can’t stay offline, chances are your children won’t either.
o Talk to your child about underlying issues. Compulsive computer use can be the sign of deeper problems. Is your child having problems fitting in? Has there been a recent major change, like a move or divorce, which is causing stress? Don’t be afraid to seek professional counseling if you are concerned about your child.

There is something to be said for Cafe Society where people actually meet face-to-face for conversation or the custom of families eating at least one meal together. Time has a good article on The Magic of the Family Meal http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1200760,00.html See, also Family Dinner: The Value of Sharing Meals http://www.ivillage.com/family-dinner-value-sharing-meals/6-a-128491
Perhaps, acting like the power is out from time to time and using Helen Robin’s suggestions is not such a bad idea.
Related:

Two studies: Social media and social dysfunction https://drwilda.com/2013/04/13/two-studies-social-media-and-social-dysfunction/

Common Sense Media report: Kids migrating away from Facebook
https://drwilda.com/tag/the-impact-of-social-media-use-on-children/

Is ‘texting’ destroying literacy skills https://drwilda.com/2012/07/30/is-texting-destroying-literacy-skills/

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