Health de-Screening

As a parent, I know how hard it is to find quality advice I trust enough to act on. I also know how hard that good advice can be to follow when it goes head to head with my lifestyle. Imagine my surprise when, shortly after the birth of my first son, the American Academy of Pediatrics made a formal recommendation that television should be completely avoided for children under the age of two.

“Don’t even have the baby in the same room as a running television,” said our pediatrician. My wife and I took a moment to pick our jaws off the floor, before asking why.
As it turns out, because of critical brain development in the first two years, exposure to the fast-cut editing of broadcast video media is suspected to impact attention span later in childhood.
You may ask, “What about educational shows?” As it turns out, they seem to have no positive impact on skill development for children under two.
What were we going to do? My warm fantasy of cuddling as a new family on the couch for a family T.V. night with the sleeping baby just went out the window. At first, we put the baby to bed before watching our favorite shows. But we took a more radical step when we moved: selling the T.V., intending to buy another.
We never did. And you know what? We don’t mind.
We’ve adjusted to life on mini-screens, naturally scaling down our viewing to smaller doses of streaming content.
But more importantly, we read at the table, play board games, build legos and play trains.
One day, we may get another big screen. But not today.
Clearly, this path is not for every family.
But every family can and should think about their children’s media diet, at every age, as freely as we discuss nutrition, exercise and the risks of tobacco use.
In Media and Children, the AAP notes that excessive media use can lead to:
  • attention problems,
  • school difficulties,
  • sleep and eating disorders, and
  • obesity.
It makes the following health recommendations for families around media consumption:
  • limit total screen time to 1-2 hours/day (t.v., games, computers, cell phones), and make non-digital media available in the home (books, newspapers, board games, etc.)
  • watch television with older children and talk to them about the advertising that they see
  • establish “screen-free” zones with no televisions, computers of video games in bedrooms or at the dinner table
  • spend time outdoors and doing hobbies
  • avoid all television and video entertainment with infants and children under two

© Christopher W. Buckley and StoryWiseGuy, 2010-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Christopher W. Buckley and StoryWiseGuy with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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