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How much screen time is too much for children?

Posted at 6:02 PM, Feb 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-28 20:02:45-05
Parents, do your children love watching TV, using their IPads or playing video games?
With so much digital media, you might be wondering how much screen time is too much? 
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, research shows too much media can affect your child's sleep, child development and even increase obesity.
For children under the age of two, the AAP recommends that you avoid screen time, but video chatting is ok. For children two to five-years-old, limit screen time to one hour per day of high-quality programming. Avoid fast-paced programs which are hard to understand and avoid apps with lots of distracting content.
Dr. Eve Shapiro with Orange Grove Pediatrics says she has the "screen time" conversation with parents all of the time. 
"The way kids learn, the very young babies is by interacting with parents, listening to your voice, having people sing to them, read to them and looking at facial expressions. That's how kids learn,  not by looking at the screen. They don't have any context to the process that," said Dr. Shapiro. 
Mom Brianna Pape limits screen time at home to her five-year-old and two-year-old children. She started four years ago after she had realized it over stimulated her daughter. 
"It was really that zombie feeling I got from her," said Pape.
"The hardest part is remembering to find schedule and balance to have your time. The biggest reason for sitting your child in front of a tv is you don't have your own time as a mom," Pape added. 
As your kids get older and especially if you have more than one, limiting screen time is not a one size fits all approach.
Dr. Shapiro recommends families talk about other options like playing board games. 
In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics has launched an online family media use plan to help you figure out what works best for your family.  
The Pape's do movie night at least once a week. 
"I think the key message is that parents should be involved in what their kids are watching on media," said Dr. Shapiro. 
Dr. Shapiro also says when you begin incorporating screen time with young children, avoid it one hour before naps or bedtime. For teens, Dr. Shapiro recommends that parents take phones away at least one hour before bedtime. 
"It doesn't make me popular, but I think it's important," said Dr. Shapiro.