Stories about: screen time

When and how should I introduce screens to my 2½ year old?

Michael Rich, MD, MPH, is Boston Children’s Hospital’s media expert and director of Boston Children’s Center on Media and Child Health. Send him a media-related parenting question via cmch@childrens.harvard.edu and follow him on Twitter @CMCH_Boston.

Michael Rich, MD, MPH

Q: I have a 2½ year old, and so far, per the advice of our pediatrician, she has had no screen time. However, I have heard that educational television, such as Sesame Street, can be useful to offer in small doses after the age of two. My inclination is to continue not to offer her screen time, as I am worried that she will want to spend lots of time in front of screens (television, iPad, phone, etc.), and right now she spends most of her day reading, doing puzzles, and in imaginary play. At what point does it make sense to introduce screen time, and in what manner?

Mindful Mom, in Washington, DC

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Do eReaders harm children’s eyes?

Michael Rich, MD, MPH

Michael Rich, MD, MPH, is Boston Children’s Hospital’s media expert and director of Boston Children’s Center on Media and Child Health. Send him a media-related parenting question via cmch@childrens.harvard.edu and follow him on Twitter @CMCH_Boston.

Q: We recently bought eReaders for our sons, ages 5 and 7. I am wondering if we should treat the time they spend reading on these devices the same as the time they spend reading library books or books from their own bookshelf? Also, I know that generally the concern around screen time is with attention issues, but are there any adverse consequences for vision associated with reading an eReader as opposed to a printed book?

~eCurious from Grand Isle, VT

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It’s time for pediatricians to change our advice about media

Television—screen-time in general, really—is a problem for children. Kids who watch too much of it are more likely to be overweight. Violent programming and video games can make kids more aggressive, sexualized programming can make kids more likely to have sex early, fast-paced programming can mess up executive functioning in preschoolers.

Because of our worries about the effects of television, the standard advice of pediatricians has been: turn it off. We say that children under the age of 2 shouldn’t watch any television at all, and everybody else shouldn’t watch more than two hours.

The problem is, people aren’t listening to us.

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The power of play: unstructured fun vs. organized activities

Claire McCarthy, MD

Natasha doesn’t want to go to swim camp this summer.

Of course, she waits until I’ve sent out the emails to the other swim team moms discussing weeks and carpools before she tells me that the only thing she really liked about it last year was that I let her have Lunchables for lunch (I never buy that stuff, not sure what got into me). Apparently she didn’t get to spend much time with her friends, the kids in her lane were pushy, and games they played when they were out of the pool weren’t very fun. “They taught us the same stuff I learn in practice, anyway,” she said.

Summer is still a few months away, but now is when we need to start making plans if we want to get the weeks that work at the camps we want. The thing is, I can’t seem to generate any interest in camp among my children. I don’t know if it’s just too hard to think about summer with the piles of snow outside, but there is no enthusiasm to be found.

This may not be a terrible thing. It would be nice not to have to get everyone up and out in the morning. And a cheaper summer would be helpful, with both high school and college tuitions to pay next year. We have a family vacation planned for two weeks in August, and thanks to all the snow days they won’t be out of school until the end of June, so it’s really just July that is blank. Still, it feels weird not to plan anything. Is it okay to say that the kids will just…play?

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