Kids and media: How much is too much?

In this Friday, Oct. 21, 2011 photo, Frankie Thevenot, 3, plays with an iPad in his bedroom at his home in Metairie, La. About 40 percent of 2- to 4-year-olds (and 10 percent of kids younger than that) have used a smartphone, tablet or video iPod, according to a new study by the nonprofit group Common Sense Media. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Technology changes media recommendations

Randi Martin | November 15, 2014 1:42 am

WASHINGTON — How much media is too much for our tots? Well, the jury is still out on this controversial topic.

If you base your answer on guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, all of it is too much.

In fact, the organization says TV and other entertainment media should be completely avoided up to the age of 2, and children ages 3 to 5 should be limited to one hour of “high-quality” content.

These recommendations are based on studies that reveal excessive media use can lead to obesity, attention problems, sleep difficulties and more.

However, these days, “media” is not just limited to the TV — smartphones, tablets and computers are all common commodities in many households. Yet, these forms of media are not included in the AAP’s recommendations, which were proposed in 1999 and last updated in 2011. Since then, the media and technology world has done nothing but expand.

“What we are looking at now is a generation of children who are plugged in most of their waking hours,” says Cris Rowan, a pediatric occupational therapist and author of “Virtual Child.”


Studies that reveal excessive media use can lead to obesity, attention problems, sleep difficulties and more. (Flickr Vision/Getty Images)

“I’m not saying children can’t learn from technology, certainly they can, but for the over-user, who is the average child, they can no longer learn because of the detrimental impact to the brain,” Rowan says.

The versatility of media — from its ability to provide educational resources to displaying television entertainment — prompted Dr. Dimitri Christakis, professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington, to write an article in Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics calling for AAP to re-think its current guidelines to include today’s technology.

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