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Limiting Media Usage

By: Melanie Hamm, CNP

Information on this page should be utilized as a guide, not medical advice. If you feel you need to speak with someone regarding behavioral therapy or counseling, please contact Connections to make an appointment.

An eight-hour day of school is a long time. So, surely that must be the leading activity for children and teens. Wrong. The leading activity for children and teens, following sleep, is media. The average 8-10-year-old spends almost eight hours a day with different types of media, while a teen spends more than 11 hours per day. Media can be positive for children, but it can also lead to great health risks.

The key is limitation and making the right media choices. Too much media usage can lead to obesity, lack of sleep, school problems, aggression, and behavior issues. It is not a coincidence that all of those things tie in very closely to ADHD. In fact, children with ADHD have a much greater risk for problematic video game use, aggression and behavior problems. The problem with media use lies in the fact that many parents/caregivers have very few rules for media use.

Two-thirds of children and teens actually report that their parents enforce no rules about time spent with media. More than 60 percent of teens are using their cell phones to send or receive text messages after “bedtime,” causing them to complain of sleepiness at school. So what can parents do to help their children:

  1.  Limit all screen time to one or two hours per day. Yes, that is hard, but it is worth a try.
  2. Start them young. Discourage media exposure in under two years of age.
  3. No television or internet-connected electronic device in children/teen bedrooms.
  4. Charge cell phones in parents’ bedroom overnight.
  5. Stop all electronic/media the last one or two hours before bed.
  6. Monitor sites your child/teen is visiting. Have your own Facebook, Twitter, Instagram login and “follow” or “friend” them.
  7. Watch TV, movies, videos together, then discuss important values.
  8. Model by establishing a family home media use plan. (Enforce meal time and bed time curfews for media devices, including phones). Parents should always participate.
  9. TV ratings exist for a reason. Be firm in not allowing children/teens to watch inappropriate content.

Please note that these tips are only effective if they are enforced. Although media is commonly thought of as a source of entertainment, it is important – as parents – to take the use of it seriously. Diligently teach your children to be the masters of their media usage and not to allow their media usage to master them.

 

Melanie Hamm is a certified pediatric nurse practitioner at Connections. She holds a Master of Science degree in Nursing from University of South Alabama in Mobile, Ala. Her professional affiliations include the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Society, and the Mental Health Exam Committee.

Information on this page should be utilized as a guide, not medical advice. If you feel you need to speak with someone regarding behavioral therapy or counseling, please contact Connections to make an appointment.