Pay no attention to the push from Disney et al to screen kids half to death; new guidelines from the American Association of Pediatricians state in no uncertain terms that kids these days spend way too much time staring at screens — and it's probably bad for their health.
Look, I know that parenting is like super hard. I personally know several parents who can't shut up about how hard and awesome (but mostly hard. Maybe even the hardest.) parenting is. So hard that gosh I'm so lucky that I'm unencumbered but darn it is't the most rewarding thing in the world and I don't really know what it is to be a woman until I've Had A Baby. And I know that because parenting is Hard, sometimes giving your kids some educational Swedish blocks when all they want to do is watch a NickToon about yelling is easier said than done. But American 8-year-olds spend an average of 8 hours parked in front of screens every day. And doctors say that it really should be more like 2. From Livescience,
In addition to limiting all entertainment screen time — including TV, the Internet and various smart devices — to less than two hours daily, the guidelines recommend children under age 2 get no screen time.
Parents should watch TV shows and movies with children, and monitor their media usage, according to the recommendations. Finally, families should define clear rules, such as curfews for Internet use, or limits on cell phone use during dinner.
Possible ill effects of too much vegging out include inactivity, obesity, and that vacant slack expression that kids get when they're entranced by a TV displays in Best Buy, their clammy hands immobile inside a half consumed bag of Flamin' Hot Cheetos. That expression a child is truly horrifying. I spent most of my childhood making my face do other things, like cry and complain about things not being fair and look up "penis" in the World Book Encyclopedia. And look how I turned out!
The AAP also recommended that parents teach their children good media habits by consuming media with their kids and making sure they're not watching junk. Or porn. More from Livescience,
Children shouldn't have Internet access or televisions in their rooms, because that makes it too hard for parents to monitor kids' media use, Strasburger said.
"If you have a 14-year-old son and he has an Internet connection in his bedroom, I guarantee you, he's looking at pornography," Strasburger told LiveScience.
Not all TV is bad, according to this new AAP pronouncement. Educational TV like Sesame Street consumed in small amounts is fine.
But don't come crying to me when your son announces he's Muppetsexual.