Are Kids Too Wired to Technology? The American Academy of Pediatrics Thinks So

“Put that phone down and study!”, “Are you really doing your homework or are you surfing the internet?”, “If you studied as much as you texted you’d be a great student!”  Sound familiar?  The battle over our kids’ use of technology has increased over the years because children have greater access to devices with a screen – mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and of course, the old standby – TVs.  What is our role as a parent?  Do we clamp down and say, “No more!”  Do we put limits on our kids’ access or do we turn a blind eye with the thought that this behavior is typical of kids these days in the metro Washington DC area?

How Much Time Are Kids Spending with Technology?

kids and technologyIt’s not an easy subject given the fact that media is coming at our kids from all directions.  A recent poll from Common Sense Media found that 72% of children under the age of eight use a mobile device to play games, use apps, or watch video, which is up from 28% just two years ago.  Seventeen percent of these young children are using a mobile device daily.  It doesn’t stop there.  The average eight to ten-year-old is spending eight hours a day with media, and teens are connected eleven hours a day.  Seventy one percent of kids have a TV in their bedroom and half of all children have a video game console.

What the AAP Says

Realizing that too much technology can interfere with childhood development, let alone parent-child relationships, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the nation’s largest group of pediatricians, has released a long-awaited policy statement.  Here’s what they recommend:

  • No screen exposure for children under the age of two.
  • Parents should play an active role in determining which media is acceptable and which is not.  This can be done by viewing videos together or watching and discussing movies and TV shows together.
  • Closely monitor websites and social media sites kids are using.
  • The total entertainment screen time should be less than two hours a day for school-aged students.

What Works for My Family

Here’s my two cents — for what it’s worth.  Limiting a teenagers time to two hours a day is nearly impossible.  A more realistic proposal may be to have a “tech timeout.”  That means, at a certain time of the day, all electronics should be turned off.  Some families have found that turning off screens for even 45 minutes after dinner each night can allow everyone to unwind and spend quality time together.

In my own home, I’ve found that eliminating technology from my sons’ bedrooms has been a positive thing.  I fell into the trap of allowing my oldest teenager to charge his phone by his bedside.  Bad idea.  He was texting, watching videos, and perusing the internet late at night when he should have been sleeping.  Now, by 9:00 pm at night, everyone’s phone (even mine and my husband’s) is plugged into the charging station in our kitchen.

There are no easy solutions in today’s wired world, but I do believe the American Academy of Pediatrics has opened the dialogue once again on our kids’ consumption of media.

What has worked in your home when it comes to limiting technology?  Drop me a line.  I’d love to hear!

Ann Dolin –