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How Much Is Too Much Media For Kids? San Diego Experts Weigh In

November 12, 2013 1:22 p.m.


Pradeep Gidwani, MD MPH, is a San Diego pediatrician. He is past president of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Rain Bosworth, Ph.D. is a research scientist in the Infant Vision Lab at UC San Diego. She specializes in attention, perception, vision and visual learning.

Related Story: How Much Is Too Much Media For Kids? San Diego Experts Weigh In


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition, I am Maureen Cavanaugh. Too much of a good thing can be bad for you. The American Academy of pediatrics says that kids and teens are spending too much time with media. Whether it's TV or computers, videogames are cell phones, the group now advises parents to set rules for the children's media use. The AAP also encourages parents to become more involved than what their kids are watching, playing and texting work. I would like to welcome my guests Pradeep Gidwani and Rain Bosworth. Welcome to the show. Doctor Gidwani, the American Academy of the tricks just released a new policy on kids and media use. Where are doctors getting involved in kids media use?

PRADEEP GIDWANI: The great thing about being a pediatrician is we are concerned about everything in terms of children learning and everything that has to do with the child's health. Important part with media as such is a new field. The explosion of what they have available has let all of us to have a number of questions and like any other technology, technology moves faster than we can adapt to. Trying to catch up and figure out what we can advise parents. There things be do and do not know yet.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How much time are kids and teens spending with media on a daily basis?

PRADEEP GIDWANI: An astounding amount. We're talking about younger children on TV or have a screen time about eight hours a day. Teens are up to eleven hours a day. As only twenty-four Sunday and we need to speak sleep. We're getting a lot of time on the screen.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How does that happen? If kids are home they can play video games and watch TV, but are you saying that they are on the tablets and cell phones all the time? And they are in school, being taught on computers and tablets in school, where can you possibly spend that much time in front of media?

PRADEEP GIDWANI: That is a great point. We're using all these things and it really is interesting when you see children and adults going to the devices. Smartphones are amazing what they can do, but they're also always with us.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What restrictions does the AAP believe parents should put on these?

PRADEEP GIDWANI: We look at media as a part of your life. We want to look it wisely. There's a limit to what we can eat. We have to be smart about our media. There are great learning applications. Today's technology is a lot more interactive. There are amazing things that can happen, but we can get addicted to games and stuck playing things that don't do much for brains, and importantly it does not too much for relationships.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Rain, based on the research that you have done, do you agree with the conditions?

RAIN BOSWORTH: Yes we were very curious about whether infants could learn from these videos. There is a question in our laboratory. We had parents wring their infants and deceive there could benefit from these baby Einstein's DVDs. There are so many of those DVDs that are marketed for infants and yet I was aware of the American Academy of pediatrics recognition that they don't think infants under the age of two should be watching TV of it all.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You talking about it infants under the age of two. Think a lot of people would not think that there would be any effect whatsoever. Just putting some of the baby in front of the TV or in front of the computer screen. What are the effects? What are infants or children that young be able to take in?

RAIN BOSWORTH: We know that infants can now. They have become instantly familiar with her mother is based on vaccination studies. Another infants at the age of 12 months of age can learn their capable of learning but whatever reason studies have shown that infants are not learning from television. Why that is we're not sure.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Are there negative effects that you've been able to pick up and research?

RAIN BOSWORTH: There are some studies showing that infants are not acquiring vocabulary or image on TV. The assumption is that TV is robbing the children of real one-on-one time with people. That is so infants especially in children learn the language.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And how do you feel Doctor Gidwani?

PRADEEP GIDWANI: Is such a wonderful piece absolutely. Children's needs are met by caregivers and there's an amazing amount to communication and what we're learning about early to bring development is so amazing. Vocally our first commission of San Diego funds many products that are really focused on early learning. Were talking very early learning such as one or two months. It's going to come in the context of relationship and interaction. As kids get older you need unstructured time such as play. Robbing children of the opportunity to interact. If you're not interacting, if you are interacting with the screen and not a person, you'll be getting a two dimensional feedback. Not three-dimensional interaction between two people.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And that interaction is apparently what it is that sparks children to become interested in how the becoming learning how to speak and to mitigate. Doctor Gidwani, with pediatricians see their patients does the amount of media exposure ever come up in the conversation?

PRADEEP GIDWANI: Absolutely. I get many questions about children under two and people feel so strong. I'm so happy that you've done your research. I have researched essay but you knew. Parents are asking all of the time, and more portly is a get older, each kid is different in some has so much to do with response ability. We talk about giving developmental tightness based on the child development so how does that work with it comes to media? Some kids you can go to it and give them the phone and tell them all the user during emergency enable the center emergency. You need to be very involved with kids lives. Parents know their kids best. And it's best to be involved with your kids.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What questions are the AAP recommending that doctors actually ask parents of their patients when they come in for these visits?

PRADEEP GIDWANI: We're lucky as we get to work on wellness in pediatric. Their silly questions the parents have been a lot of time the media questions talk about setting limits and having conversations document what is good and what is bad. There's a lot of tension about cyber bullying and things that are inappropriate for children to use. We need to be engaged and involved with our kids. We have a companion site called to the It's a companion site the parents. This family time media and people going so far as to writing of the media plan. I know sometimes it sounds crazy to set goals and be so structured the check kids but is a wonderful way to learn as a candidate computer and six sit down. Things that you don't want to do or use media during meals. The tough times when we're not using media. The other thing is the talking out what we can do. Imaginary play and storytelling a wonderful program told reach out and read. We get books into the hands of low-income families. Future versions sit together read stories together. Watch babies with the community is amazing. Each age is so precious and amazing in what they can make it. Even teen years. They will tell you so much of what is going on true stories or asking questions. Children do what you to be involved in their lives.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: One thing that the American Academy on Pediatrics is recommending is that kids and teenagers to not have TV or computers or video games in their bedrooms. That is going to be a hard sell.

RAIN BOSWORTH: And doing something right that your I have two boys a teen in the child. There always begging for it TV in a fight with them. They are always interested in their iPads and media.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Are the statistics overwhelming? The overwhelming majority of teens and kids have the devices in their rooms?

PRADEEP GIDWANI: There are number of kids that have them in the room and it has been of coordinated with obesity and attention span issues. Importantly you need to get enough sleep. Adults can work through it that kids and can have a tremendous effect on their physical health and mental health if they're not getting enough sleep. If you have TV in the room there is a tendency to over use it. We do see obesity and the key thing is mounted monitoring. You want to be involved with your kids. The hard part about that is we have to all about monitor ourselves as adults. Kids are what they see if you're always on your device are always checking emails, your attention is on their kids and it's hard as it is. We'll have to take a break and a deep breath and say how much is this getting in the way of my relationship with my kids. If the TV is the bedroom, you don't have the chance to monitor as a parent.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What you see is the comfort consequences of and restricted media's?

RAIN BOSWORTH: I mean the study and in ages, but with the study we did we exposed infants to a video that was sort of like baby Einstein video. We only show that you thirty minutes and we found that if anything they got worse at arm systemic measures spirit for infants at least even for a short period of time to get into benefit them.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Most adults marvel at the way kids adapt so quickly. You can struggle to figure out your iPad in your seven-year-old has already been making friends with people in Poland on your iPad. Can it be that this kind of heavy media use will become normal in the future?

PRADEEP GIDWANI: It will become normal. Ever since there've been human serpent storytelling and relationships. As communities we need to do things together and have time to get a some people argue that what about social collections they have mine? It can be good when you find people were like you that you can have good conversation with. It does not change the fact that having a conversation in person for having meal together and creating memories together is what we remember. We think about our childhood and what were your favorite memories. Always involve somebody around food. I think going back to your early question, what happens if we don't restrict media. I think it's a getting their information from advertisers and from the media and not from the parents. It's really up to parents to help kids learn the values that they want to.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Your note unique position you are researching this in dealing with these questions at home. I'm wondering how you decided to monitor what your kids are accessing online. How you monitoring the social media?

RAIN BOSWORTH: At the time constraints on it. I set a timer and basically say okay you've been on it a total of an hour a day and that's it. And they fight but I think it's quite easy to find other fun things to do.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: To give them an hour on the tablet in an hour on the TV? Is that were?

RAIN BOSWORTH: Yes I say this time you spend watching TV is a time to interact.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I see. Well that must be hard for some people to do. Given how busy parents are, to actually monitor how long your children are out on these devices. What is the good side of all of this media exposure?

PRADEEP GIDWANI: With it as information exposure. You can get any amount of information on anything? We can use it as a teaching device and stories in the media that can teach empathy and racial tolerance. Two different perspectives. It is amazing to spend time with the child and let conceding some different perspectives.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Do you think in the clinical world of people coming in with children and now are you being asked questions about children and the media?

PRADEEP GIDWANI: One of the great these his parents have access to information. It is important to discern what information is good. The national Academy of pediatrics launched a healthy children website. I've actually printed out some material. It has media pledges and pieces go working together. Parents can go get information in the office. It's a quick talk about it. It's good to have information available. That is a key piece, having the right information at the right time that helps you as a parent.

RAIN BOSWORTH: I wanted to add that a lot of parents come into my lab want to know how to can improve their infant. Should I be showing more colors, and the world's riches it is. You don't get more information or better information through media. But one way that parents can teach the kids by watching videos with them and engaging them. It can be a teaching tool.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: One must question. When people are stressed out and have a lot of things to come in center kids down in front of and watch some shows for for instance, the ideas that you're doing something good for your child and freeing up your own time. Watching a good thing and not having to deal with them every second.

PRADEEP GIDWANI: When the kid watches, TV, make it something that is engaging. Talk to them about it afterwards and make sure they are not watching it passively and engage them to see what it is teaching them and what they did they learn. I'm thinking of all the previous shows. Take that as an opportunity to learn and engage in that is a big thing. You'll have to be engaged with your child all the time. It's natural to have breaks of that. But when you reconnect, show interest and kids love with her parents are enthusiastic about what they share.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I have to end it there. Thank you.