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Connecticut Families Extra: Building a family media plan

Connecticut Families

When it comes to screen time, how much is too much? How young is too young for a smartphone? Experts say when it comes to media use, what’s right for one family, might not work for the next. 

Large, medium, and small screens. They’re everywhere you look. How often do teens and kids use them and when? 

“It’s usually a distraction. If I’m at a restaurant. Or if I need to get ready for work.”

But what happens when screen time cuts into physical activity or sleep?  Dr. Jenny Radesky is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the author of the 2016 Media Use Guidelines For Children. 

“We’ve really tried to answer that in a way that will help parents know how to create some balance,” said Radesky.

The council created an interactive website. Parents can build their family’s personalized media plan. 

“You can plug in who your children are, what their ages are, and then you get a few choices of what are the different healthier balanced technology-based behaviors that would be appropriate for that age,” said Radesky. 

Radesky recommends families try one or two things that would work.  

“For some families it might be let’s pick a few unplugged spaces in our house or a time of day, like dinnertime,” said Radesky. 

Dr. Radesky also says parents should explain their media use out loud, for example, say “I’m texting dad to tell him where we should meet.” It demonstrates positive smart phone use.  

“They want to know these things. They want to feel in control,” said Radesky. 

The World Health Organization just issued guidelines recommending little or no screen time for children under five.  Dr. Radesky says those guidelines are most important if a family is worried about a child’s obesity risk.  Research has shown that with an hour to 90 minutes of sedentary media use, the obesity risk increases.

To access the American Academy of Pediatrics’ site to build your family’s media plan, go to www.healthychildren.org.  

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