US Doctors Urge Parents Ban Cellphones, Internet In Kid’s Bedrooms, But Industry Marketers Celebrate 2 year-olds Using It In Cribs

girl w cell in bedhttp://life.nationalpost.com/2013/10/28/ban-cellphones-internet-use-in-childrens-and-teenagers-bedrooms-u-s-doctors-urge-parents/

Children and teenagers who use cellphones and Internet-enabled devices in their bedrooms at night are at higher risk of bullying, anxiety and other mental disorders, and also for obesity, U.S. pediatricians claim in a policy shift of what they recommend to parents on media use in kids’ nighttime routines.

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’s 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 Dr. 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 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 longstanding 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 aged 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 cellphone 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’

“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,” Strasburger said.

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

“Young people now spend more time with media than they do in school — it is the leading activity for children and teenagers other than sleeping” the policy says.

Mark Risinger, 16, of Glenview, Ill., is allowed to use his smartphone and laptop in his room, and says he spends about four hours daily on the Internet doing homework, using Facebook and YouTube and watching movies.

He said a two-hour Internet time limit “would be catastrophic” and that kids won’t follow the advice, “they’ll just find a way to get around it.”

Strasburger said he realizes many kids will scoff at advice from pediatricians — or any adults.

“After all, they’re the experts! We’re media-Neanderthals to them,” he said. But he said he hopes it will lead to more limits from parents and schools, and more government research on the effects of media.

The policy was published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics. It comes two weeks after police arrested two Florida girls accused of bullying a classmate who committed suicide. Police say one of the girls recently boasted online about the bullying and the local sheriff questioned why the suspects’ parents hadn’t restricted their Internet use.

Mark’s mom, Amy Risinger, said she agrees with restricting kids’ time on social media but that deciding on other media limits should be up to parents.

‘Kids are getting way too much computer time. It’s bad for their socialization … it’s numbing them’

“I think some children have a greater maturity level and you don’t need to be quite as strict with them,” said Risinger, who runs a communications consulting firm.

Her 12-year-old has sneaked a laptop into bed a few times and ended up groggy in the morning, “so that’s why the rules are now in place, that that device needs to be in mom and dad’s room before he goes to bed.”

Sara Gorr, a San Francisco sales director and mother of girls, ages 13 and 15, said she welcomes the academy’s recommendations.

Her girls weren’t allowed to watch the family’s lone TV until a few years ago. The younger one has a tablet, and the older one has a computer and smartphone, and they’re told not to use them after 9 p.m.

“There needs to be more awareness,” Gorr said. “Kids are getting way too much computer time. It’s bad for their socialization, it’s overstimulating, it’s numbing them.”

AND NOW THE CORPORATE MARKETING LINE:

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38% of Children Under 2 Use Mobile Media, Study Says

Babyiphone

Nearly two in five children have used a tablet or smartphone before they could speak in full sentences, according to a new report.Conducted by family advocacy organization Common Sense Media, the study found that 38% of children under the age of 2 have used a mobile device for playing games, watching videos or other media-related purposes. In 2011, only 10% had.

By the age of 8, 72% of children have used a smartphone, tablet or similar device.

“This is the true sign that the digital generation has arrived,” Common Sense Media’s founder and CEO Jim Steyer told Mashable.

The study found that mobile-device use among very young children is growing rapidly, especially compared to other mediums. Television viewership remained stable, with 66% of children under 2 watching in both 2011 and 2013. Computer use grew from 4% to 10% over the two years, but DVD viewership actually declined, from 52% in 2011 to 46% in 2013.

Not only are more children using tablets and smartphones, they’re using them for longer periods of time. The amount of time spent using these devices tripled: In 2013, children ages 0 to 8 spent an average of 15 minutes a day using mobile devices; that’s up from 5 minutes a day in 2011.

“We’re seeing a fundamental change in the way kids consume media,” Steyer said. “Kids that can’t even talk will walk up to a TV screen and try to swipe it like an iPad or an iPhone.”

Steyer explained that children’s increased access to and use of mobile devices has its pros and cons. Tablets can be great educational tools, but if they’re overused or serve as virtual babysitters, they may cause developmental harm, he said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents should bar all screen time, including mobile devices, for children under 2, but Steyer believes that’s a conservative suggestion. When tablets and smartphones are used responsibly, and both time used and content is monitored, devices can serve many educational purposes. (Gee, not a doctor but he knows better than the national Academy of Pediatricians!)

“We need to make screen time learning time,” he said. “Technology used wisely is an essential element to education.”

Steyer emphasized that as mobile devices become even more heavily used by children, companies must strive to create “ethical and valuable,” technology; that includes making devices and applications that do not encourage addiction, are educational and respect the privacy of families.

“This trend is a big deal to the tech industry, and there’s a profound impact on children and families,” he said. “We’ve got to use these things wisely.”

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Image: Flickr, Greg Tee

http://mashable.com/2013/10/28/children-under-2-mobile-media-study/

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