The explosion of tech and screens into the lives of children is outrageously obvious to me as a pediatrician. Besides the fact that most kids and parents seem to be attached to a phone or tablet when I enter the exam room, when I ask questions about how kids spend their days (and nights), screens seem to be part of everything.
You’d think that I’d get questions from parents about screen time and about how best to use devices with their kids. But I don’t. Like, never.
This is weird, because I feel like I get asked about everything else that touches a child or is part of a child’s life. I think I have been asked every possible question about food, sleep, toys, school, after-school activities, playgroups, strollers, summer camps, shoes, coats, soaps, pajamas… I’m not kidding; I get asked about everything.
But not screens. I used to get asked about when kids should get a cell phone, but I don’t even get that question anymore.
I figure that there are three possible reasons. It could be that screens are so commonplace that people don’t think to ask about them. It’s certainly true that they are becoming ubiquitous; currently two-thirds of US adults have a smartphone, a proportion which has nearly doubled since 2011.
Yeah, but shoes are even more ubiquitous and I get questions about those. So maybe not.
It could also be that parents feel like they know everything there is to know and don’t need my advice. I think that’s probably the case for some parents — although given how new some of this technology is, I am impressed with their knowledge.
I think that the most likely reason is that parents are afraid of what I’ll say. They think that I will tell them to turn off all the screens or take the screens away from their kids. And that would be such a drag, right? Because let’s face it, screens are pretty great. Besides the fact that smartphones, tablets, computers and other devices are remarkably useful, they are remarkably entertaining, too. And we all know that happy kids make for happy parents. …
By Ari Brown, MD, FAAP. Dr. Brown is a pediatrician, author of the Baby 411 book series and has offered her expertise to several media outlets including the Today show, CNN and the Wall Street Journal. Dr. Brown completed her residency at Children’s Hospital Boston in 1995 and will be joining her peers at an upcoming alumni reception at the Institute of Contemporary Arts on October 15. For more information visit, Children’s event website.
You are as old as you feel, right? Most days, I feel like I’m still a kid—probably because I hang out with kids all day long. But the other day, I received an invitation to my 20-year medical school reunion. Admittedly, I felt just a little old…and a bit reflective.
The last time I saw many of my med school classmates was when I was 26, and heading off to my pediatrics residency at Children’s Hospital Boston. So much has happened since then. Marriage. Kids. Career. But unlike some of my peers, I wouldn’t change a thing.
I’ve loved pediatrics for twenty years. I am truly happy going to work every day. I have a special relationship with my patients and their families—a relationship that they will never have with the practitioner working in the minute clinic around the corner. I am the one who examines my patients when they are first born. I perform the well child visits, encourage breastfeeding, answer the worried parent phone calls, identify developmental delays, offer parenting advice, and diagnose the colds, flus, ear infections and occasionally things a bit more serious. And I love every minute of it (okay, almost every minute of it). I love it because I can help future generations develop healthy lifestyles and I genuinely enjoy watching my patients grow up.
But, the current trends in healthcare—particularly in pediatrics—are troubling to me. More parents are heading to that minute clinic around the corner to get their child a quick Strep test after school and work, choosing convenience over quality and continuity of a medical home. Are pediatricians going to become the next Borders or Netflix? Are we being shoved out of the marketplace because we haven’t kept up with consumer demand? …
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) sent a strongly worded message to parents this week: your children should not drink sports drinks or energy drinks.
The ads for these drinks are full of athletes exercising and the message is clear: sports drinks will help us be faster and stronger. More than that, the message is that we need them for exercise, because they replace the fluid we lose in sweat. “Energy and sports drinks are marketed in a way that imbues them with a healthy halo,” says David Ludwig, MD, PhD, director of the New Balance Center for Obesity Prevention at Children’s Hospital Boston.
“Over the last decade, many studies have highlighted the adverse effects of the traditional sugar-sweetened soda,” says Ludwig. With declining consumption rates of these drinks, the food industry has tried to create a submarket of alternative beverages. Sports drinks are still sugar-sweetened, but they typically have about 25 percent less sugar and some electrolytes. …
Recently I wrote a blog about how the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks that otherwise healthy children with ear infections should wait a couple of days before starting antibiotics, because many will get better without them.
Now there are two articles in the New England Journal of Medicine (here and here) saying that children with ear infections who are given antibiotics are more likely to get better, and to get better quickly, than those who aren’t.