Put Your Child on a 'Media Diet,' Says Expert Pediatric Panel

There is a seemingly endless supply of videos on YouTube showing the tiniest of tots using smartphones or tablets, and nearly all children at some point see things on television they probably shouldn’t. Pediatricians know this, and they’re worried. In fact, the concern is so pervasive that the American Academy of Pediatrics, the country’s leading expert in children’s health, has published recommendations to guide health care providers, parents and other caretakers on age-appropriate usage of media such as the internet, smartphones, video games and television.  One thing is made clear: This is not an area for free-range parenting.

The panel on Friday issued comprehensive guidelines on creating a healthy “media diet” for kids of every age. These new policy recommendations, published in Pediatrics, offer a framework for how to safely and diplomatically introduce and expose children to the tools of the digital age.  These experts recommend children use media technology only at approved and limited times.

Parents should “develop personalized Family Media Use Plans for their families that attend to each child’s age, health, temperament, and developmental stage and ensure that each child can practice and benefit from the essentials for healthy growth and development, such as a healthy diet, good sleep hygiene, adequate physical activity and positive social interactions,” according to the authors of the policy statements.

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