AAP policy statement addresses influence of media on children

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1. The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes that while the media may negatively influence children and adolescents, it could also have important positive and prosocial effects.

2. Pediatricians are advised to ask 2 media questions at every well-child visit: How much recreational screen time does your child or teenager consume daily? Is there a TV set or an Internet-connected device in the child’s or teenager’s bedroom?  

3. Pediatricians should work with parents, schools, policymakers, and the entertainment and advertising industries to decrease the negative impact that media has on children and adolescents.

Rundown: In a policy statement released today, the AAP addresses both the negative influence of media (eg. violence, obesity, substance use) on children and adolescents, as well as its potential for positive and prosocial effects (eg.improving connectedness, tolerance, health, and knowledge), which may teach children to engage in behavior promoting social acceptance and friendships. The media landscape is changing, with media use defined as TV, Internet, computer, video game, cell phone, and social media use. Media use is now almost the most common activity among children and adolescents, second only to sleeping, with almost all (75%) children and teenagers having Internet access and owning their own cell phones. Furthermore, the majority (2/3) of children and teenagers report that their parents have “no rules” about time spent with media. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that pediatricians become educated about media topics and take a media history at each well-child visit. Two important media-related questions should be asked: How much recreational screen time does your child or teenager consume daily? Is there a TV set or an Internet-connected device in the child’s or teenager’s bedroom? Current guidelines include limiting the amount of total entertainment screen time to <1 to 2 hours each day and discouraging screen media exposure for all children <2 years old. Parents should be encouraged to limit screen time, monitor media use, engage in coviewing, and model active parenting by establishing a family home use plan for all media. In addition, it is recommended that pediatricians work with schools, policymakers, and members of the entertainment and advertising industries to maximize prosicial content in media, minimize harmful effects (ie. smoking, violence), and make socially responsible decisions on marketing to children and adolescents.

Click to read the policy statement released today in Pediatrics

Relevant Reading: Health Effects of Media on Children and Adolescents

By Cordelia Y. Ross and Leah H. Carr

More from this author: Pediatric gunshot injuries associated with higher mortality and costs; Psychotropic medication use declining in children with behavioral disorders; Postnatal breastfeeding concerns associated with discontinuation; Childhood bullying associated with increased risk of psychosomatic problems; Parents’ ADHD treatment preferences predict treatment initiation

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