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Kids' screen time up; pediatricians warn parents of problems

Pediatricians are warning parents that kids who spend too much time in front of a screen could develop problems.
October 28, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
For the first time in 12 years, the American Academy of Pediatrics is revising its guidelines on screen time. Since 2001, the number of hours kids spend on smartphones, tablets and laptops has skyrocketed. Now the group has issued a warning for parents about it.

If you want get a hold of 14-year-old Kate Decker, you can find her on her phone connecting with lots of other kids, and that's what the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is concerned about.

Experts say the average 8- to 10-year-old is in front of a screen up to seven or eight hours a day - a huge increase from a decade ago.

Pediatrician Dr. John Rodarte says too much screen time has been linked to obesity, inattentiveness, sleep disorders and emotional problems.

"We set rules for our children as far as when is meal time? When is bedtime? When is homework time? We should do the same thing with when is media time?" said Rodarte.

In general, kids shouldn't spend more than two hours a day on entertainment media, but pediatricians say it's not so much about setting time limits as it is about setting boundaries and being more involved in your child's media consumption.

"Be interactive with your children, get involved in what they're doing and what they're using, and understand what they're using, and make some guidelines for yourself and your kids," said Rodarte.

The AAP suggests every family create a media-use plan. Teach kids how to be more selective in what they consume. Kate's mom has strict rules on how much time her daughters can spend on entertainment media.

"When each one gets a phone, we actually have a contract that we draw up with them saying how much they can use," said Anne Decker.

While some of Kate's classes require some screen technology use, she understands the difference between educational and recreational uses. So from this point on, she's making this pledge.

"Use my phone and my computer and my tablet less. I'll try," Kate said.

The AAP says parents should discourage children under age 2 from having any type of screen time and still keep TVs and other screens out of kids' bedrooms.


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