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New advice from pediatricians on screen time for kids

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Don't be surprised if the next time you take your child to a check-up, the pediatrician asks about screen time.

The American Association of Pediatrics has released new guidelines on children's use of electronic devices. The group recommends parents make a “media use plan” with clear rules about use of all screens in the home, from cell phones and tablets to televisions. The suggestions aren't as harsh as previous pronouncements, which included a full-on ban for children under age 2, but some parents will find them challenging.

The group is recommending that parents limit the amount of total entertainment screen time to a maximum of one to two hours per day.

In the Policy Statement released today, the association encouraged pediatricians to check in on kids media consumption at every routine check up, asking two questions: How much recreational screen time does your child or teenager consume daily? Is there a television set or Internet-connected device in the child’s bedroom?

The group says that the average 8- to 10-year-old spends nearly eight hours per day in front of screens, including using the Internet. If the child has a television in his or her bedroom, screen time is even higher.

“Young people now spend more time with media than they do in school — it is the leading activity for children and teenagers other than sleeping,” the document said.

Among the American Association of Pediatrics' new recommendations:

  1. Discouraging screen media exposure for children younger than 2 years old.
  2. Keeping televisions and and Internet-connected electronic devices out of a child’s bedroom.
  3. Monitoring Web sites and social media sites children are using.
  4. Watching television shows and movies with children and teenagers - and using them as a way of discussing important family values.
  5. A mealtime and bedtime “curfew” for media devices, including cell phones and establishing reasonable but firm rules about cell phones, texting, Internet, and social media use.
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