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Kids & Screens

At the risk of sounding like an old dude, I will start this blog by saying, “Back in my day…”

Back in my day, we did not have the ever-present screens that our kids are now faced with. At my house, we had a television that got may five channels on a good day. We didn’t have cable – ever. We had a central telephone and we mostly had to stay off of it because my Dad was a pastor and in the Air National Guard and often had important calls.

Back in my day, we did not have our lives published over the internet. We didn’t have social media and if we experienced bullying, it was the in-person kind (not that that is any better), but generally it stayed at school and our homes could be sanctuaries.

Back in my day, some kids did have video games. In my house we did not, but I was at plenty of sleep-overs where there were opportunities to play video games. I even knew some kids who had a TV in their bedroom (again not in my home).

However, it is no longer ‘back in my day.’ It is today and I think adults need to start shifting that conversation. Instead of simply saying, back in my day we didn’t do these things, we need to focus on today’s kids. It is very unlikely that we can tell parents or kids to stay away from screens.

Screens are here to stay, so we need to have a healthier, well-rounded discussion about the benefits and the dangers.

I recently came across this study on Medscape and thought it would be great to share with all of you.

Here’s a quote from the synopsis, followed by a link that you can read the highlights.

{QUOTED ARTICLE} Can Screen Time for Kids Be OK?

"Although research for the report shows clear links between technology use and exacerbation of mental health problems, it also shows that screen time has benefits. Some online time improves the child’s or teen’s connectedness and confidence.

The data show sort of “a Goldilocks effect,” Dr Anderson said. “There’s a ‘just right’ dose.”

An hour a day can be beneficial, but several hours a day can become problematic, exacerbating sleep and mental health problems.

The report is also useful in aiding healthcare providers to help parents reframe how they think about their child’s screen time and technology, said Bradley Grant, DO, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

“There’s a misconception that parents are gatekeepers of technology,” he told Medscape Medical News, but “navigating online is an essential skill for teens to go out into the world today.”

The goal is to work with children and teens so that they develop the skills to use social media and technology in a safe way that enriches their lives, he said.

The report provides guidance on engaging kids regarding their technology and screen time rather than just limiting their access.

Some children, though, may have a lower threshold for problematic gaming and social media use, according to the report. For instance, children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning disorders are twice as likely to experience cyberbullying, and patients with anxiety, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or ADHD are more likely to overuse social media and experience mood variation.

The report may serve as a valuable resource for physicians to identify and address more vulnerable patients who may need more parent involvement.

“Children and teen communication strategies are changing,” Dr Anderson said. “Screens are here to stay.””

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