Smartphones, computers, and televisions enable today’s
youth to consume media at unprecedented rates -- a ramification of the digital
age that has left parents wondering how much is too much.
In a comprehensive study, published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers set out to
identify the degree to which heavy media use affects the health and well-being
of children and adolescents.
Their findings are alarming.
Data shows that children and adolescents spend more time consuming
media, roughly eight hours/day, than they do in any other activity except for
sleeping. And Dr. Victor C. Strasburger, paediatrician and lead author of the
study, claims too little is being done by governments and the entertainment
industry to protect this large and impressionable segment of the population
from the media’s harmful effects.
“Media affect youth not only by displacing time they
spend doing homework or sleeping but also by influencing beliefs and
behaviours,” writes Dr. Strasburger, adding that children and adolescents
“learn by observing and imitating what they see on the screen, particularly
when these behaviours are realistic or rewarded.”
Further investigation into the overconsumption of media
revealed the following:
What can parents
Strategies to reduce the negative effects associated with
media consumption can be implemented inside the home. Here is a list of four
simple recommendations offered by the American Academy of Pediatrics:
the amount of screen time for children older than two years old to no more than
one to two hours/day.
screen time for children under two years old.
your child’s room free of any screen media. This includes televisions,
computers, tablets, and smartphones.
a point of co-viewing media with your child. Encourage your child to think
critically of what’s being offered to them. This is particularly important for
parents with adolescent children.
For more digital and media literacy resources, visit MediaSmarts.