When childhood is defined by excessive screen time, almost no outdoor play time, highly competitive schools, and unrelenting commercialization, it kills childhood.  We have know for years that there are significant negative effects on children and teens, that extends into young adulthood.  It harms their mental and physical health.  It also harms their ability to be healthy, educated, balanced adults.

Some of the problems:

  • ebooks with interactive enhancements (pop-ups) may decrease child comprehension
  • Excess media use in preschool years is associated with future obesity
  • Media use in bedrooms is associated with less sleeping
  • More media use is associated with more family conflict, less interaction between family members
  • Parents leaving TV on in the background causes them to ignore children
  • Children are passive versus active with thinking and taking in information

For optimising well being of children, follow these recommendations:

  • Avoid digital media use (except video-chatting) in children younger than 18 to 24 months.

  • For children ages 18 to 24 months of age, if you want to introduce digital media, choose high-quality programming and use media together with your child. Avoid solo media use in this age group.

  • Do not feel pressured to introduce technology early; interfaces are so intuitive that children will figure them out quickly once they start using them at home or in school.

  • For children 2 to 5 years of age, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programming, coview with your children, help children understand what they are seeing, and help them apply what they learn to the world around them.

  • Avoid fast-paced programs (young children do not understand them as well), apps with lots of distracting content, and any violent content.

  • Turn off televisions and other devices when not in use.

  • Avoid using media as the only way to calm your child. Although there are intermittent times (eg, medical procedures, airplane flights) when media is useful as a soothing strategy, there is concern that using media as strategy to calm could lead to problems with limit setting or the inability of children to develop their own emotion regulation. Ask your pediatrician for help if needed.

  • Monitor children’s media content and what apps are used or downloaded. Test apps before the child uses them, play together, and ask the child what he or she thinks about the app.

  • Keep bedrooms, mealtimes, and parent–child playtimes screen free for children and parents. Parents can set a “do not disturb” option on their phones during these times.

  • No screens 1 hour before bedtime, and remove devices from bedrooms before bed.

Reference: Media and Young Minds (American cademy of Pediatrics)

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