Disclosure :: This post is sponsored by Ochsner Health Center and written by By Dr. Myriam A. Ortiz-De Jesus.
Screen Time and Media Exposure in Children
In our current living environment, smart phones, computers and TVs are an important and necessary part of our daily lives. It is easy for children to be exposed to media and screen time at an early age. But when is too early? What is considered excessive? What are the harms of too much screen time or media exposure?
In an effort to give parents guidance on appropriate screen time for children, the American Academy of Pediatrics published some recommendations for parents regarding screen time including:
- For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media, except for video chatting with family members
- For children 18 months to 2 years, you may introduce high quality programming, but ensure you watch them with them to help them understand what they are seeing
- For children between 2-5 years of age, limit screen time to up to 1 hour a day, and watch with them to interact with the child and re-teach the content
- For children over 6 years of age, place consistent limits on the time using media and the type of media. Ensure it doesn’t interfere with other important activities like physical activity, study time and sleep
- For older children, teach the importance of online citizenship, online safety and treating others with respect
In the early years, a child’s language, cognitive and social development depends on social interactions, hands on exploration and play experiences. These types of experiences may become limited if a child is exposed to excessive screen time and media exposure.
It is important for children under 5 years not to be left unsupervised interacting with media. Parent or supervising adult should be present to re-teach the content or interact with the child.
Excessive screen time and media exposure has been associated with:
- Decreased physical activity and an increased risk of obesity
- Less social interactions between child and parent
- Sleep disturbances and interference with a consistent and stable bed time routine
- Early exposure to violence
What can you do to ensure appropriate screen time and media exposure?
- Establish your own rules that work for you and your family, and be consistent
- Keep TVs and computers out of children’s bedrooms
- Do not keep the TV running when not in use
- Do not use the TV as a sitter
- No TVs, phones or computers during mealtimes or before bedtime
- No phones while driving
- Lead by example and try to model good media use
Would you like to learn more about Ochsner and the services that they offer in Baton Rouge? Check out the links below.
Dr. Myriam Ortiz De Jesus earned a Doctor of Medicine degree with academic honors from Ponce School of Medicine in Ponce, Puerto Rico. She completed an internship and residency in General Pediatrics at Tulane University Medical Center in New Orleans, LA. She is board certified in Pediatrics and is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She currently practices at Ochsner Health Center – Zachary and her areas of interest include all areas of general pediatrics and breast feeding promotion.