The word diet is taking on a whole new meaning for Americans.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests parents should monitor their children’s “media diet” more closely.
According to the AAP, children are spending an average of seven hours a day using TVs, computers, cell phones and other electronic devices.
“I can’t imagine doing anything for several hours a day that would not involve getting to run around or play with toys or even interacting with their parents,” said Kim Whitten, a mother of two.
The AAP said kids with excessive media exposure are at higher risk for obesity, attention problems, sleeping and eating disorders.
“I think limiting the amount of time that a child spends in front of their screen is important and I encourage that, and then how to- I would leave up to the parents,” said Dr. Tom Benton, a Gainesville pediatrician.
Whitten just started letting her two and four-year-olds watch TV — a decision she didn’t take lightly.
“They get wrapped up in it and we miss out on our opportunity to go outside and I try to take advantage of the best part of the day to get out and if you’re sitting there watching TV, you’ll miss it,” she said.
Now, she only let’s her kids watch an hour of TV each day.
The AAP also suggested setting some boundaries by limiting children’s use of entertainment media to only two hours per day. It also recommended implementing “screen-free” zones in kids’ bedrooms or at the dinner table.
“The most important thing you can do for your child is to love them, and love them sometimes is to say, ‘Here’s a boundary, you need to stop doing that and do something else,'” Benton said.