New tool developed to help families maintain healthy use of media
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Recent, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released recommendations for healthy exposure to digital media in childhood, and an interactive online tool to help families achieve this.
With the rapid development in digital media, many children are now brought up in a world where mobile phones, laptops and tablet devices play a central role in their lives. It is now common to see children texting on the street or sitting in a restaurant with headphones on and eyes glued to the screen of a tablet.
Although digital media can enrich a child's learning experience, excessive use can endanger healthy development. Children may spend less time outside playing with their peers in favor of sitting alone playing computer games or communicating via social media. In this way, children can lose out on important physical activity and social interactions.
Furthermore, staring at phone or computer screens can impair the quality of a child's sleep, which can be detrimental to their development and achievement potential. It is therefore important that parents set expectations and boundaries to make sure that a sensible balance is maintained between the use of media and other engaging activities.
Dr. Chassiakos lead author of the technical report highlighted "Parents play an important role in helping children and teens navigate the media environment, just as they help them learn how to behave off-line".
Dr. Radesky, author of a policy statement on the use of media in infants, toddlers and pre-school children, explains:"Families should proactively think about their children's media use and talk with children about it, because too much media use can mean that children don't have enough time during the day to play, study, talk, or sleep... early childhood is a time of rapid brain development, when children need time to play, sleep, learn to handle emotions, and build relationships. Research still suggests that excessive media use can get in the way of these important activities".
The AAP recommends that screen media other than video-chatting should be avoided in children younger than 18 months. Children aged up to the age of 5 years may watch up to one hour of high-quality programming. Such viewing, however, should be with supervision to help the child understand what they are seeing and relate it to everyday life. From age 6 years, children can use media by themselves but within consistent limits to make sure that such activities do not preclude adequate sleep, physical activity and social interaction.
It is important that families have media-free times together, such as meal times, and that there are media-free locations, such as bedrooms, within the home. Parents themselves should also limit the time they spend using mobile devices since high usage is associated with fewer verbal and nonverbal interaction between parents and children and may be associated with more parent-child conflict.
To help families achieve a healthy balance of media and other traditional activities, the AAP have developed a range of resources and an interactive, online tool so families can create a personalized Family Media Use Plan.
Source: News Medical