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


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.


Recommendations From The American Academy of Pediatrics

  • No media exposure for children under age 2
  • No digital devices or televisions in kids' bedrooms.
  • Limit screen time to less than 1 to 2 hours a day.
  • Watch TV shows and movies with children.
  • Create a family plan or rules for media use.

Too much of a good thing isn't always good for you.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says kids and teens are spending much too much time with media.

Whether it's television, tablets, computers, video games or cellphones, the group now advises parents to set some rules for their children's media use.

The AAP also encourages parents to become more involved in what their kids are watching, playing and texting.

San Diego pediatrician Dr. Pradeep Gidwani said kids are spending an 'astounding' amount of time in front of a screen.

"We're talking about younger children having screen time about eight hours a day, and a little bit older, the teens are up to about 11 hours a day. There's only 24 a day — we need to sleep — that means a lot, a lot of screen time," he said.

Gidwani said we should look at media like we look at sugary drinks and sugary snacks.

"There's a limit to what we can eat. We have to be smart about our media," he said.

While there are a lot of interactive games that can be used to help children learn, UC San Diego research scientist Rain Bosworth said the same is not true for infants.

"We had parents bring their infants to see if they could benefit from these baby Einstein's DVDs," she said.

"There are so many of those DVDs that are marketed for infants and yet I was aware of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that they don't think infants under the age of two should be watching TV if at all."

Bosworth said while studies do show that infants as young as one or two months of age can learn, they aren't learning from TV.

"The belief is that TV is robbing children of real one-on-one time with people," Bosworth said. "That's really how infants especially, and maybe children, learn language."

Gidwani said some people may argue that you can establish meaningful social connections online.

"But it does not change the fact that having a conversation in person, having meal together, creating memories together is what we remember," he said.

"What happens if we don't restrict media is I think then kids getting their information from advertisers, from the media and not from their parents. Really it's up to parents to help kids learn the values that they want their kids to have," Gidwani said.

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