As kids get their new homework assignments, more of them will be logging onto their computers but how much is too much when it comes to screen time for kids? 

Latest figures from the American Academy of Pediatrics show that kids who are eight to ten years old spend six hours a day on electronics, increasing their risk of vision problems, spinal issues, difficulties in socialization and poor sleeping. 

The American Heart Association; Monday also weighed in on the dangers saying too much screen time encourages kids to be less active and less mindful of the food they eat while engaged with electronics. 

Marcela Cristea, MD, a Banner Children’s pediatrician who practices in Mesa, offers practical advice to parents when it comes to determining time limits for computers, phones, tablets, and televisions. 

“There can be a lot of negative aspects if a child is exposed to too much screen time,’’ says Cristea, who is frequently asked for help by parents on this subject. 

Cristea talks about the newest guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as tactics parents can use to reduce their child’s risk of screen-time health problems. Guidelines include: 

  • For children younger than 18 months, use video chatting only. 
  • Children 18 to 24 months of age should watch only high-quality programs and be with someone to help them understand what they’re seeing. 
  • Children ages 2 to 5 years should watch one hour of high-quality programs a day with an adult present. 
  • Children ages 6 and older should have consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media. 
  • Make sure there are media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms. 

“For school work, the computer can be a great tool, but there has to be an understanding that it can be used recreationally only after homework and chores are done,’’ Cristea said. 

Cristea gives these tips to parents on how to help their children: 

  • Set rules and follow them: Including making sure children put down devices at least an hour before bedtime to help ensure they get restful sleep. 
  • Get involved: For little children that means deciding which shows to watch; for older children, it may mean watching shows with them. 
  • Be a role model: Be the first to put away the telephone and turn off the television once family dinnertime starts. 

About Banner Children’s 

Banner Children’s, part of nonprofit Banner Health, cares for more kids than any other health system in Arizona. From well-child exams to treatment of minor injuries and illnesses to management of chronic conditions, the experienced team at Banner Children’s provides comprehensive, family-centered medical care for every child in Banner Health centers and clinics, emergency rooms, hospitals, and outpatient facilities. Services include: behavioral health, cancer care, diabetes and endocrinology, digestive care, emergency care, heart care, neurosciences, primary care, surgery and more. For more information about Banner Children’s services, physicians and locations, visit: 

www.BannerChildrens.com. 

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