Media is everywhere. TV, Internet, computer and video games all vie for our children’s attention. Information on this page can help parents and pediatrician understand and communicate about the impact media has in our children’s lives, while offering tips on managing time spent with various media. Today’s children are spending an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices. To help kids make wise media choices, parents should develop a Family Media Use Plan for everyone in their family.
Collected here are tools to help pediatricians and health professionals understand and implement the AAP recommendations on children and media, and to discuss the topic with parents and families.
Please feel free to share these resources in your social media networks, websites and other platforms.
- Media and Young Minds Policy Statement
- Media Use in School-Aged Children and Adolescents Policy Statement
- Children, Adolescents and Digital Media Tech Report
- News release: American Academy of Pediatrics Announces New Recommendations for Children’s Media Use
- AAP News articles:
From TV to smartphones to social media, our lives are dominated by 24/7 media exposure. Despite this, many children and teens have few rules around their media use.
Parents, help your children balance their online and off-line lives!
Create Your Personalized Family Media Use Plan:
Visit HealthyChildren.org/MediaUsePlan to create a personalized Family Media Use Plan that works within your family’s values and busy lifestyles.
This interactive tool developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) includes a Media Time Calculator that can give you a snapshot of how much time each child is spending on daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, homework, physical activity, and media use. It also includes AAP recommendations on screen-free zones, media manners, and much more.
Between checking text messages and playing the latest video game, how much time, on average, do you spend on technology?
New research from CAMH’s Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario (PGIO) suggests that excessive technology use could increase your risk for mental health problems.
“Tech is not really the problem, the lack of balance is,” says Doriann Shapiro, Social Worker, PGIO. “Because we are in a technological age, youth are often also using tech for writing and research. But when they are totaling over seven hours a day, finding balance between that is the challenge.”
PGIO research shows an increasing number of youth are seeking help for their video gaming habits. Between June 2014 and May 2015, youth and parents made up 17 per cent of new clients in the program.
According to PGIO, problem video gaming is on the rise in Ontario. The stats show:
- 10 per cent of students spend at least seven hours a day on technology
- 21 per cent students play video games daily
- 12 per cent have video gaming problems
- Boys are four times more likely than girls to engage in problem video gaming
“Problem video gaming has harmful effects on an individual’s social, occupational, family, school, and psychological functioning,” says Lisa Pont, Social Worker, PGIO. “It can result in a loss of control, withdrawal, and escape from difficult feelings.”
“There’s a bit of debate about whether or not you could be addicted to the internet itself or the behavior you’re doing online,” she adds. “But one can argue it’s a little bit of both.”
Do Screens Affect Your Child’s Daily Life?
Most people I know don’t believe screens are addictive and research shows that most parents are only mildly concerned that their kids may be using too much technology. I’d guess this is because technology, and even excessive screen time, aren’t widely recognized as being harmful, like say drugs or alcohol. Excessive screen time is considered socially acceptable by many, if not most people. However, in college (about a million years ago) I majored in nursing and during psych clinicals my professors would say that addiction becomes a true problem when it affects your day-to-day life and the lives of those around you. It’s a good point, because I see this continually with screens. One family member is upset because everyone is staring at their phones; relationships bust up over too much tech time; and tech even gets folks in trouble at work and school. If screens are affecting every segment of your child’s life plus your kid’s interactions with others, it’s clearly not just a free time activity, it’s a problem. If you look at any basic Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Gambling Anonymous or Alcohol Anonymous pamphlet, you’ll see some parallels between drug addiction and screen addiction. For example, if you take this NA brochure (pdf) and insert “screens” or “tech” where you see the word “drugs” here’s what you end up with:
- Have you ever manipulated or lied to obtain screen time?
- Do you regularly use screens when you wake up or when you go to bed?
- Do you avoid people or places that do not approve of you using screens?
- Has your job or school performance ever suffered from the effects of your screen use?
- Have you ever lied about how much you use?
- Do you put the purchase of tech ahead of your other financial responsibilities?
- Have you ever tried to stop or control your using?
- Does using tech interfere with your sleeping or eating?
- Does the thought of running out of tech terrify you?
- Do you feel it is impossible for you to live without screens?
- Do you ever question your own sanity?
- Is your screen use making life at home unhappy?
- Have you ever thought you couldn’t fit in or have a good time without tech?
- Have you ever felt defensive, guilty, or ashamed about your using?
- Do you think a lot about tech?
- Have you ever used screens because of emotional pain or stress?
- Do you continue to use despite negative consequences?
- Do you think you might have a tech problem?