Parents: Give Kids’ Screen Time a Time-out

New guidelines on kids’ time with media devices
two kids texting on phones

As a parent, you worry that your kids spend too much time staring at screens on their media devices — whether it’s their phone, computer, TV or tablet.

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You may not realize that the average 8- to 10-year-old child spends nearly eight hours a day with different media. For older kids, the number goes up to 11 hours a day.

These numbing statistics come from a study cited in a policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Now the AAP has released a list of guidelines designed to help parents manage their children’s screen time.

No TV for children under 2

Richard So, MD, did not help put the guidelines together but is a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children’s. He echoes the screen time guidelines proposed by the AAP.

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“Children under 2 should have no TV or screen time at all,” says Dr. So. “Limit older kids’ media use to less than two hours a day.”

Dr. So adds that cell phone use in the bedroom at night is the major cause of insomnia for the teenagers he sees — like the AAP, he is a proponent of bedtime “curfews” for media devices.

Highlights of screen time guidelines

Among the other AAP guidelines for parents:

  • Limit amount of total screen time to less than 1 to 2 hours per day
  • Keep TVs and Internet-connected devices out of children’s bedrooms
  • Monitor what media their kids access and use, including any websites and social media sites
  • Watch TV, movies and videos with children and teenagers, using the content as a bridge to discuss family values
  • Establish a family home use plan for all media: enforce a mealtime and bedtime “curfew” for all devices and establish reasonable but firm rules about cell phones, texting, Internet and social media use

‘Just talk to each other’

Dr. So has another suggestion to add to the guidelines for parents: taking daily media “time-outs.”

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“All cell phones, computers, tablets and even TVs should be turned off for a half-hour or an hour after dinner,” he says. “And just talk to each other as families.”

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