Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

#Limits: Parents Urged to Curb Kids' Media Use

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

#Limits: Parents Urged to Curb Kids' Media Use

Article excerpt

CHICAGO -- Doctors 2 parents: Limit kids' tweeting, texting & keep smartphones, laptops out of bedrooms. #goodluckwiththat.

The recommendations are bound to prompt eye-rolling and LOLs from many teens, but an influential pediatricians group says parents need to know that unrestricted media use can have serious consequences.

It has been linked with violence, cyberbullying, school woes, obesity, lack of sleep and a host of other problems. It's not a major cause of these troubles, but "many parents are clueless" about the profound impact media exposure can have on their children, said Victor Strasburger, lead author of the new American Academy of Pediatrics policy

"This is the 21st century, and they need to get with it," said Dr. Strasburger, a University of New Mexico adolescent medicine specialist.

The policy is aimed at all kids, including those who use smartphones, computers and other Internet-connected devices. It expands the academy's long-standing recommendations on banning televisions from children's and teens' bedrooms and limiting entertainment screen time to no more than two hours daily.

Under the new policy, those two hours include using the Internet for entertainment, including Facebook, Twitter, TV and movies; online homework is an exception.

The policy statement cites a 2010 report that found U.S. children ages 8 to 18 spend an average of more than seven hours daily using some kind of entertainment media. Many kids now watch TV online and many send text messages from their bedrooms after "lights out," including sexually explicit images by cell phone or Internet, yet few parents set rules about media use, the policy says.

"I guarantee you that if you have a 14-year-old boy and he has an Internet connection in his bedroom, he is looking at pornography," Dr. Strasburger said.

The policy notes that three-quarters of kids ages 12 to 17 own cell phones; nearly all teens send text messages, and many younger kids have phones giving them online access. …

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