Pediatricians Recommend Putting Kids on Healthy “Media Diet”

Kids spend hours each day being consumed by media, whether it be on television, smart phones, iPads or elsewhere. Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics put out a new set of guidelines aimed at managing teens’ and children’s media use.

Media can contribute to several health risks, the pediatricians say, but it can also be a helpful, learning tool.

“A healthy approach to children’s media use should both minimize potential health risks and foster appropriate and positive media use—in other words, it should promote a healthy ‘media diet’,” said Marjorie Hogan, MD, FAAP, co-author of the AAP policy. “Parents, educators and pediatricians should participate in media education, which means teaching children and adolescents how to make good choices in their media consumption.”

The AAP notes that excessive media use has been associated with obesity, lack of sleep, school problems, aggression and other behavior issues and advocates for more research about how media affects youth.

It should also be noted that 8 to 10-year-olds spend an average of 8 hours a day with different media, and teens spend more than 11 hours a day. It’s not just screen time that is a concern, but content.
“For nearly three decades, the AAP has expressed concerns about the amount of time that children and teen-agers spend with media, and about some of the content they are viewing,” said Victor Strasburger, MD, FAAP, co-author of the report. “The digital age has only made these issues more pressing.”

The AAP recommends parents do the following:

  • Parents can model effective “media diets” to help their children learn to be selective and healthy in what they consume. Take an active role in children’s media education by co-viewing programs with them and discussing values.

  • Make a media use plan, including mealtime and bedtime curfews for media devices. Screens should be kept out of kids’ bedrooms.

  • Limit entertainment screen time to less than one or two hours per day; in children under 2, discourage screen media exposure.



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Liz Hayes
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