Pediatrician Robert A. Mendelson suggests that all pediatricians talk about screen time as a health issue with their patients and families:
The health impacts of excessive media use are clear. They include decreased real-life communications with family and friends, disturbed sleep patterns, decreased school/work performance, and exposure to online privacy and safety risks, especially for children and adolescents.
Dr. Mendelson shares these tips in AAP News:
- Recommend that families create and follow a media use plan.
- Rules should apply to all family members and all screens. Parents should model appropriate media use behavior.
- Parents should be knowledgeable about the content their children are accessing.
- Know and appreciate the differences between educational and recreational screen time.
- No screens (television, tablets, cell phones, etc.) should be available near or after bedtime. All electronic devices should be turned off and kept in a common location for charging. A general recommendation: No TVs in bedrooms.
- Specific limits can vary appropriately by age. It’s OK for pre-teens and teens to form and participate in online relationships. It has become part of today’s typical adolescent lifestyle. Parents should monitor these communications as often as possible and practical.
- Strongly encourage adequate exercise and play time.
- Family times (especially meal times) should be screen free.
- Digital etiquette should be addressed and discussed frequently.
- Encourage digital use together. Parents can learn a lot about digital media use from their children.
- Eliminate background media, such as a television turned on but not being watched, and other screen time noise, which dramatically reduce the quality of conversations with children of all ages.
- Remember the value of face-to-face communication. Young children learn best, including language development, from face-to-face, eye-to-eye conversations.
- Avoid using technology as an electronic babysitter.
- Visitors should be asked to follow the family’s screen time rules. (Hint: Have a basket at the front door in which guests can deposit their devices and pick them up at the end of the visit.)
More PediaBlog on screen time here.