How much time does your child spend in front of the TV? Officials update recommendations

ABOVE: How much time should your child spend in front of the TV? Carey Marsden reports.

TORONTO – Kids as young as eight years old are bombarded by media, with laptops, smart phones and televisions in tow, new research is warning.

On Monday, U.S. pediatricians updated guidelines for parents and doctors to help them manage how much media kids are consuming. Meanwhile, a study revealed new numbers suggesting the amount of time kids spend on mobile devices has tripled over the past few years.

The new recommendations, issued by American Academy of Pediatricians, were released Monday at a conference in Orlando, Fla.

“Parents, educators and pediatricians should participate in media education, which means teaching children and adolescents how to make good choices in their media consumption,” Dr. Marjorie Hogan, co-author of the policy, said.

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Read the policy statement here.

A Common Sense Media report also out on Monday provided a snapshot of what media consumption among youth looks like nowadays: kids about eight years old are getting up to eight hours of screen time a day. Older kids from 11 to 17 are in front of screens for up to 11 hours. Kids as young as two years old have had their hands on smart phones and other gadgets, too.

Read the full report: Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America 2013

“For kids under two, you want to have no TV. For older kids, you want to limit it. Limit their media use to less than two hours per day and for teenagers, the major cause of insomnia for my teenagers in my practice is cell phones in the bedroom. Take them away,” says Dr. Richard So of the Cleveland Clinic.

“All cell phones, computers, and tablets are turned off. It should be maybe a half-hour or an hour after dinnertime where even the TV is turned off and you just talk to each other as families,” he suggested.

The Mayo Clinic links too much screen time to health risks such as obesity and irregular sleep among other problems.

The National Institutes of Health calls for just two hours of screen time for kids per day. It offers a list of tips to help keep TV and other media away here.

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