The touch-screen generation: How to monitor kids time

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DENVER -- The American Academy of Pediatrics has been monitoring how much time kids spend on media.

A first report came out in 1999, which urged parents to not let children under the age of 2 watch television.Now, a 2011 report takes a look at touch-screen time, along with built-in DVD players in mini-vans and the electronic media young children are plugged into from almost birth.

Currently, 90 percent of parents say their children younger than 2 years old watch some form of electronic media.

By age 3, almost a third of kids have a TV in their bedroom, as a peacekeeper and a safe activity for their children while getting dinner ready, getting ready for work, or doing household chores.

The AAP warns that more time on touch-screens can be harmful in the long-run for young children.

In the Children’s Technology Review, estimates indicate by a lose count there are more than 40,000 kids’ games at Apps stores. The majority of these Apps are aimed at pre-school and elementary-age children.

Many worry too much screen-time can leave brains in a stupor. But because interactive media is so new, most of the existing research looks at children and television.

The big question is, how do small children actually experience electronic media and what does the experience do to their development?

Researchers are finding that with touch screen media, kids might not be able cognitively to handle symbolic representation, which is different from television where nothing happens because TV is static and lacks a two-way exchange of information.

“We try to limit how much time or how many programs kids can watch,” said Sarah Marcogliese. “We have a 2- and 4-year-old. The older one can get on our iPad and wonders why laptop screens are not touch sensitive. The younger one, Jade, is all over our iPhone, which proves to us, we need to monitor better how much time the kids can be on screen.”

The book, Screen Time, calls for understanding of the three C’s when thinking about media consumption: content, context and your child.

Is the content appropriate? Is the screen time a small part of the child’s interaction with you and the real world?

The author, Lisa Guernsey, said, “Tailor your rules to the answers, child by child. Outside time and even book time should be in the equation and one way to not be the bad-guy could be to use an egg timer to measure on-screen time, set it for 30 minutes, when time is up, it’s the timer not parents who say it is time for another activity, hopefully off-screen."