How much screen time is too much for kids?

“I feel like it’s a necessary evil,” Portland mom Beth Bass said.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Cell phones, iPads and social media are dominant forces in children’s lives. Now, a television channel aimed at getting them hooked even younger is gaining traction.

“We try to limit it as much as we can, but obviously all kids love their TV and tablets,” Portland mom Stephanie Austin said.

Nationally, the University of Washington’s School of Medicine reports most children spend 3 hours a day watching TV – add in working on a computer or playing video games and that number more than doubles.

Dr. Thomas told KOIN 6 News the AAP recently released new guidelines which include children under 2 who shouldn’t get any screen time, May 18, 2015. (KOIN 6 News)
Dr. Thomas told KOIN 6 News the AAP recently released new guidelines which include children under 2 who shouldn’t get any screen time, May 18, 2015. (KOIN 6 News)

“I feel like it’s a necessary evil,” Portland mom Beth Bass said. “I hate to say that because I’m just trying to literally brush my teeth before I take her to school.”

The Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics found kids as young as 2-years-old have television sets in their bedrooms.

“I’m not excited to hear there’s a television for babies,” Portland pediatrician Dr. Paul Thomas said.

Baby First TV launched in 2006, but it’s now just taking off given how much we use technology. It even inked a deal with Time Warner Cable and is available in more than 50 million homes.

Its website shows primarily animated programs that teach basic skills.

“There are links between too much TV time and ADHD, and there are certainly links to obesity and more violent behavior,” Dr. Thomas, who founded Integrative Pediatrics, said.

Dr. Thomas told KOIN 6 News the AAP recently released new guidelines which include children under 2 who shouldn’t get any screen time. He also said families should define clear rules, like curfews, for internet use. Then, he said, it is important to monitor their media usage without forgetting about your own.

“The single most important thing that will affect your children’s behavior is your own behavior when it comes to TV,” Dr. Thomas said.

The new recommendations might be hard to follow, but the doctor says they’re a good starting point since technology is becoming a more dominant force in children’s lives.

“When we go outside and start doing that kind of stuff, she loves it,” Bass said.  “It’s just getting that momentum to do something besides watching TV.”

In fact, Americans watch so much TV, Dr. Thomas said by the time you turn 70 years old, you’ll have spent up to 10 years glued to the tube.

Study by the University of Washington School of Medicine. (KOIN 6 News)
Study by the University of Washington School of Medicine. (KOIN 6 News)

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