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At the end of a long day, when you’re trying to get dinner on the table, finish up some work or handle other household chores, how easy is it to hand a whiny child a tablet loaded with games? Or flip on the television?
That tactic will quiet and distract most kids for hours. Unfortunately, it also hurts your child.
It’s hard to fight the pull of electronics. Television, internet, video games, smart phones — they all beckon our kids with fun, connection to friends, and new (often dangerous) territory to explore.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has found that children spend an average of seven hours each day staring at screens, including television, computers, phones and tablets.
Studies show that too much media use can lead to attention problems, difficulty in school, sleep disruption, eating disorders and obesity, the academy reports. Phones also make it easy for kids to get involved in sexual or bullying behavior.
The addictive influence smartphone apps have on children has become so prevalent that two Apple shareholders have asked the company to add age-appropriate software and other safeguards to help parents manage their kids' screen time and Internet exposure.
Try these ground rules for screen use, and watch your kids bloom:
Dr. Sivakami Krishnan, MD, is a family medicine physician at Elmhurst Memorial Elmhurst Clinic.
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