Palos Pediatric Dentistry

Kids, Computers, Television, and Teeth...

Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics released new policy guidelines about media usage in children. With the amount of time spent by children Children's Healthwatching TV, using Facebook, surfing the web, and texting, I think that establishing rules about media use for our kids is a great way to help keep them safe from some of the negative influences of the media.

Recent studies have shown that children ages 8-10 use media devices for 8 hours per day, while teenagers are spending more than 11 hours per day using electronic media! In fact, the only thing that children do for a longer time per day is sleep!

First of all, let's face it, the media (TV, Facebook, Twitter, iPhones, iPads, all of it!) is here to stay. In general, and myself included, we as parents are behind the times when it comes to parenting children in the media age. Given how prevalent the media is in our children's lives, we should all have some ground rules in place at home so that our children are kept safe and use television, social media, cell phones, and other media devices for positive experiences rather than negative.

The new American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines recommend the following rules regarding the use of media in children:

  • Limit non-educational television viewing to a maximum of two hours per day for children older than two years.

  • Discourage the use of television in children less than two years old.

  • Keep the television and internet out of your child's bedroom.

  • Monitor what your children are watching on TV and which websites they are visiting.

  • When your child is exposed to a less appropriate topic on TV, in a movie, or on the internet, use it as a starting point for discussing good family values.

  • Establish a mealtime and bedtime “curfew” for cell phones and other media devices. Many children have reported using their cell phones to talk, text, and use the internet after going to bed for the night.

With these few simple guidelines, you should be able to develop a media usage plan for your children. Prolonged snacking, which happens often while watching TV, using the computer, and watching movies, can be harmful for your child's teeth. Discourage prolonged snacking while using media devices to help keep your child's teeth healthy!

For more information about how to keep your kids safe, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics website, www.healthychildren.org.

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