My name is Dr. Victoria Smithers. I am a family physician in Rockwall, TX. I frequently discuss the effects of media and technology on growing children. Research has shown both health benefits and health risks to use of technology by children. The American Association of Pediatrics has come out with guidelines for pediatricians, family doctors, parents and teachers to help children with appropriate media use. Today we will discuss the effects of technology on children.

-Dr. Victoria Smithers, family physician, is an inspirational speaker and blogger on stress management and many wellness topics. She is booking now for medical and Christian conferences, keynotes, retreats, and workshops. Contact her at to check her availability and to get a price quote for your next meeting.

How Technology Effects Children

The most recent research shows that children ages 8-10 spend 8 hours a day with media and older children spend more than 11 hours a day. Television makes up the largest portion of that media averaging 4 hours a day. One third of that television is viewed from tablets, iPads or cell phones.71 % of children report having a television in their bedroom. Computer time makes up 1.5 hours – ½ of which is game playing or watching videos. 75% of children ages 12-17 have a cell phone and 88% use text message. Average is 3364 texts a month, and 1/3 send more than 100 texts per day. Teenagers access social media, like Facebook from cell phones. 60% of teens send text messages after lights out. Clearly media has a large impact on the lives of our children. It is up to parents to monitor that usage and insure their children’s safety. What are the effects of technology on children?

The Positive Effects of Technology on Children are:

  • Access to information or knowledge – apps can help children learn to read; text books are available on line; worldwide web allows access to vast resources
  • Social network or connectedness
  • Health benefits- video games improve eye hand coordination; use of exercise videos like Wi Fit and other interactive health and fitness apps increase activity; games can increase capacity for visual attention, help develop spatial and problem-solving skills
  • Increases exposure to special skills or talents- music lessons, dance classes, etc. that would otherwise not be available

Negative Effects of Technology on Children:

  • Neurodevelopmental delays in young children exposed to media under the age of 2- children must have hands on exploration and social interaction for development of cognitive, language, motor and social skills.
  • Obesity is associated with heavy media use and television in the bedroom.
  • Loss of sleep if a child has mobile device, television or computer in the bedroom.
  • Poor executive function with delays in cognitive, language and social skill are seen in preschoolers who have higher media use, earlier onset of media use and non-PBS content-inappropriate content and inconsistent parenting has a negative effect on children in studies.
  • Exposure to violent and sexually explicit content.
  • Dangerous driving while using cell phones and media.
  • Social media can be used for bullying and can be used by sexual predators.

As we have seen media continues to increase its’ impact on our children’s lives. It is critical that we as parents, educators and health professionals try to improve the access to pro-social and educational media, limit screen time and continue research into the effects of media on development. How can parents monitor and control the effects of technology on children?

parents and technology for kids

Effects of Technology on Children – Parents and Technology

The AAP has set forth some guidelines for parents:

  • Limit screen time to 1 hour per day for ages 2-5
  • No screen media exposure for children under 2 years of age.
  • No TV or internet connected devices in child’s bedroom.
  • Monitor child’s media use- including websites and social media
  • Watch TV, movies and videos with your children
  • Practice active parenting- Mealtime and bedtime curfew for media devices for entire family
  • Establish a media plan-firm rules about use of cell phones, texting, Internet and social media
  • Avoid using media to calm your child

The AAP has also recommended that schools:

  •  Supervise media access
  • Develop violence prevention, sex education and drug use prevention programs
  •  Institute media education program
  •  Use innovative technology for online education
  •  Encourage parental guidance in limiting and monitoring age appropriate screen times

The AAP also recommends that the entertainment and advertisement industries:

  •  Develop prosocial content media
  •  Avoid marketing junk food and fast food to children and adolescent
  • Stop advertising alcohol and cigarettes on television and media

Everything in Moderation Including Technology

How can we create more positive effects of technology on children? We all need to support further research on the long- term health and social impact of media on our children’s development and health. We all need to remember it always comes back to moderation. We can all benefit from finding more balance in our lives. We need to set limits on screen time. We need to have tech-free zones. We need to make our children a priority and demonstrate healthy habits. We need to take technology breaks and reconnect with nature and family. Engage in face -to -face communication- it is critical to language development and healthy relationships.

Health and Happiness!

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