“An alarming rate:” New warning on the impact of screen time on children’s health

“An alarming rate: ” New warning on the impact of screen time on children’s health

(CBS 58) – It’s no surprise that kids are spending more and more time looking at screens.

Now, the American Heart Association is putting out a warning.

“We’ve seen an alarming rate in obesity and I think you can directly relate that to how much inactivity kids are doing,” Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Bayshore Pediatrics Dr. Kristin Bencik said.

Officials say obesity can lead to conditions like diabetes, heart disease or stroke. The situation is all too familiar for Bencik.

“We see also a lot of my obese teenagers who have high cholesterol already,” she said. “You have high cholesterol you’re set up to have heart attacks early in life.”

It is recommended children have less than two hours of screen time every day. However, one study finds that kids between eight and eighteen triple that with an average of more than seven hours a day.

Now, tech companies are hoping to help people with new features.

This month, Apple is releasing “Screen Time” a new feature in the iOS 12 software update that allows people to set limits on time and access to apps, websites and movies.

Google also released a similar feature in its Android P update.

Bencik thinks it’s a step in the right direction, but not the solution.

“It’s just about moderation and having parents get active,” she said. “Put down your device and talk with your children. Go outside and play.”

Other ways to limit screen time include making bedrooms a screen-free zone, having kids justify their use, and setting up a specific schedule.

The American Academy of Pediatrics outlines what types of programs kids should be watching at certain ages:

  • For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting
  • Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they're seeing.
  • For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
  • For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
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