Turn It Off!

by Lauren Picker | Good Housekeeping | June 1, 2005

Good Housekeeping asked leading experts “How much is too much?” when it comes to TV, video games, and computers.

Here are some of their questions and answers:

How much time do kids spend in front of screen media? “An average of five hours and 42 minutes a day.”

Is there any proof this is bad for them? “Yes, and it’s very convincing. Heavy TV viewing and video games have been linked to obesity,
attention-deficit problems, aggressive behavior, and poor performance in school.”

So how much screen time is OK for young kids? “TV’s and computers are not considered useful learning tools for kids under two,
according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Parents should try to limit their toddlers’ screen time as much as possible.”

What about older children? “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting recreational screen time to
one to two hours per day.”

How can I get my kids to cut back on their own? 1 – Encourage alternatives like playing outside, drawing, or playing board games. If these substitutes are
engaging and interesting, kids will kick the TV habit. 2 – Set up routines by making sure free time is structured with homework, sports, or chores. 3 – Pick specific TV shows instead
of allowing kids to watch TV for a certain amount of time. Ask kids what shows they really want to watch and keep viewing to those programs.

Real parents’ suggestions:

Have kids “earn” screen time by awarding a half hour of TV time for a half hour spent reading.

Do something together – engage in an activity with your child like riding a bike or cooking a meal.

Make TV time a family activity. If your kids can only watch when you’re there too, it will be a treat for everyone.

Dr. Michael Rich
, Director of CMCH, says the most important use of a child’s time is being with other people. “Online time does nothing to enhance another
key part of growing up: learning how to relate to others and build relationships.”

US Moves to Pull Plug on Violent Video Games for Minors

by Kamau High | Financial Times, London | May 8, 2005

“There is a growing movement amoung US states and municipalities – including Illinois, Michigan, Washington state and California”
that are considering laws to restrict minors’ access to violent video games.

“The effects of video games on children remain murky. For every testimonial about increased aggressiveness in children afer exposure,
the infustry points to studies showing no such adverse reactions.”

Dr. Michael Rich
, Director of CMCH, told the Financial Times, “We have and are collecting more data that indicates that video games
that contain and rehearse violence, teach kids violence. As informed consumers we should be aware how children are changed by games.”

What About the Bullies?

by Buzz Durkin | Butokukai Newsletter | April 1, 2005

“It may be hard to work up sympathy for children who bully, but bullies themselves are often headed down a troubled path. If you think your
child might be mistreating other children, here are some suggestions:

Make it clear that aggression isn’t the only option.

Find the underlying cause of his behavior.

Ask yourself if your child might be imitating behavior he sees at home.

Monitor TV viewing and video games. CMCH Scientist Dr. Ronald Slaby says “Watch television, and you’d think violence is heroic, manly, funny, and without consequence.
That’s a bad lesson for children to pick up, so set limits and oversee your child’s viewing habits.”

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