The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that ‘screen time’ which includes TV, internet, computer, video games and cell phone usage for children should not be more than 2hours per day; children below 2 years should have zero screentime. An average 8-year-old in the US spends 8 hours on media and a teenager’s screen time exceeds 11 hours. Three-quarters of teenagers own a cell phone and 13-17 year olds send an average of 3364 texts per month. There are several studies which have linked excessive media consumption to poor health outcomes; attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. In addition, the Internet andcell phones can provide platforms for illicit and risky behaviors. They have also recommended that there should be no TV or internet in children’s bedrooms.
The AAP has recommended two media questions in every well child visit. How much recreational screen time does your child or teenager consume daily? Is there a television set or Internet-connected device in the child’s bedroom? Parents are also encouraged to watch TV shows and movies with children and to monitor media usage. Children need to also spend considerable amounts of time on outdoor play, reading, hobbies, and using their imaginations in free play. Pediatricians are finally waking up to repercussions of the powerful domination by media on our children’s minds and bodies.