Study: Increased screen time could pose risk for children

PHOENIX - There is a new warning out for parents on just how much screen time children are getting. 

From television to apps, to social media, a new study finds pulling them away may mean saving their life.

The study was conducted by Clinical Psychological Science after the Center for Disease Control has found an uptick since 2010 of depression in children ages 13 to 18. 

In the new study, researchers talked to more than half a million children. They found that those who said they spent more time on media devices were also more likely to report mental health issues. 

Doctor Kate Eshleman of Cleveland Clinic Children's was not apart of the study but says that the connection makes sense. When more time is spent with media, it leaves less time for truer social and health activities. 

"With an increase in use of screen time and social media, it results in a decrease in more face-to-face interaction, engaging in physical activities," "Dr. Eshleman said. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that infants 18 months and younger do not have any screen time. Children between ages two and five should have no more than one hour per day. 

When they hit the age of six, the academy suggests the parent decides on screen time based on the other activities in the child's life. For example, after school, homework time, at least one hour of physical activity, social contact, and sleep (eight to 12 hours), whatever is left over can be deemed screen time.

The academy also writes on their website, "Children should not sleep with devices in their bedrooms, including TVs, computers, and smartphones." 

Dr. Eshleman stressed the importance of monitoring, no matter how much time they spend online. She also suggests setting guidelines and expectation immediately when each device is introduced. 

"Just having open communication, so when the kids expect parents are going to be monitoring what they're looking at, then being able to talk with them about what you see," Dr. Eshleman explained. 

Dr. Eshleman also said to pay attention to possible red flags of depression and suicidal behavior, such as an increase or decrease in sleep or appetite, as well as changes in mood and irritability.

 

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