Can I play games on your phone?
I don’t know about you but this is my not even 10 years old son Micah most common request. Smartphones, ipods, laptops, or tablet computers—few, if any, of these technologies existed when you and I were children. But in this era of new technology, are we letting our little ones consume too much media?
Like many of you I am also guilty of letting Micah use my phoneand tablet more often than I should. In fact my screen is loaded with so many boy games that more often than not I get a ding sound of a text message, but when I check I realize that is one of his games telling me “is time to feed the cows” or “ready for another ride?.”
Realistically it’s near impossible to band all use of these new gadgets. However, whether it’s television viewing, tweeting, texting, or web surfing at night, too much exposure to digital media can lead to cyberbullying, obesity, lack of sleep and other problems. What’s a parent to do?
As hard as it may be we need to limit our kids’ access to digital media, according to new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, especially in the bedroom.
The advice applies to adults, too. Watching TV in bed has long been discouraged by sleep experts. For that matter, experts warn that all forms of electronic media should be banned from the bedroom. Light and wi-fi signal, from these devices can interfere with the release of melatonin, a light-sensitive hormone that helps induce sleep. Melatonin disruption may contribute to insomnia. It’s also counter-productive to attempt to do work on your tablet or laptop, as the psychological stimulation involved in these activities is not condusive to restful sleep.
The problem of unlimited access to internet-connected media among children and adolescents prompted the American Academy of Pediatrics to issue new guidelines late last month. Don’t be surprised if your pediatrician asks about your child’s screen time at your child’s next appointment. Doctors have been asked to inquire about screen time, and to suggest that you, as the parent, consider limiting your children’s use of all forms of media to two or fewer hours per day.
Parents are also being encouraged to ban digital devices from the bedroom. That’s one way to ensure teens aren’t staying up long after lights out, tweeting, texting, and net surfing. Furthermore, doctors are advised to “discourage screen media esposure” among children less than 2 years of age. Additional recommendations include keeping tabs on what your kids are watching, and limiting access to digital media at family mealtimes.
At our home we have an automatic switch that turns off our wi-fi daily at around 9 pm and doesn’t turn on until the morning. All of our phones and tables are either turned off or switched to airplane mode at night to avoid unnecessary exposure to wifi signals generated by these gadgets. In an earlier post I talked about the relationship between having wifi enabled telephones tablets or computers next to you during the night and the impact on the production of melatonin which in turn translates on poor sleep quality for more individuals each year.
Do you find that its struggle to balance how much media or exposure to screens our children have? What measures have you taken to minimize your own technology usage?
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COUNCIL ON COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA. Children, Adolescents, and the Media. Pediatrics. 2013 Oct 28. [Epub ahead of print]