The American Academy of Paediatrics this week released a newly revised policy statement that essentially calls out parents for being naive when it comes to the manner and extent to which their children use media today. American Academy of Paediatrics has informed parents to limit media use to two hours per day and also to discourage any screen time for children two and younger and keep Internet-connected devices out of children’s bedrooms.
“This is the 21st century and they need to get with it,” Dr. Victor Strasburger, lead author of the new policy told The Associated Press. He made a bold, but probably correct statement: “I guarantee you that if you have a 14-year-old boy and he has an Internet connection in his bedroom, he is looking at pornography.” The group says parents should limit their children’s “entertainment media use” to one to two hours per day, monitor what their kids are accessing and using and watch videos together as a way to discuss family values, and establish a family home use plan for all media as a means of modelling good media behaviour.
The American Academy of Paediatrics writes: “Media, from television to the ‘new media’ (including cell phones, iPads, and social media), are a dominant force in children’s lives…Although television is still the predominant medium for children and adolescents, new technologies are increasingly popular. The American Academy of Paediatrics continues to be concerned by evidence about the potential harmful effects of media messages and images; however, important positive and pro-social effects of media use should also be recognized.”
Whether for the positive or the negative, the role of media in children’s lives is greater than it has ever been and at an earlier age too. In spite of the already-made recommendation that kids under the age of 2 get zero screen time, Common Sense Media has found that a huge 38 percent of toddlers and babies under the age of 2 have used a mobile device. James Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media, describes these kids as “true digital natives.” Meanwhile, in the UK, 1 in 10 children has access to a cell phone by the age of 5.
Strasburger said the responsibility is not just on parents. From paediatricians, schools, research organizations, the entertainment and advertising industries to the government, all play a specific role in this. The group has recommendations for paediatricians and schools also, including how much time the child spends with media and what internet-connected devices are available in their bedroom.
He also pointed out to USA Today that the federal government has not drafted a recent comprehensive report yet, on the role media plays in the lives of children. In fact the last report published was over thirty years ago, way back in 1982. Incidentally this was the year the Federal Communications Commission first authorized commercial cellular service in the US!
This is the group’s first policy update in five years. H media use is associated with a variety of health issues, such as obesity, lack of sleep and aggression, the group says it “continues to be concerned by evidence about the potential harmful effects of media messages and images.”
What do you think? Is it ok for your children to be left to their own devices? As always, your sensible comments regarding this subject are welcomed in the comments section, below.
[Image via zdnet]