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Children's Health

Kids Still Getting Too Much 'Screen Time': CDC

Nearly three-quarters of 12- to 15-year-olds spend 2 or more hours a day watching TV or on computer
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Dr. Angela Diaz, director of the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center in New York City, agreed that parents should start the moderation message early.

"It's important to try to establish children's habits early in life," Diaz said. "Try to create an environment where kids have choices other than TV and computers."

That, she said, includes getting children involved in after-school activities, whether sports, dance, music or art. For older kids, Diaz noted, volunteer work is a good choice, too -- because they'll be interacting with, and helping, other people.

Diaz said, even though a lot of the concern with excessive screen time is that it makes kids couch potatoes -- which could affect their physical health -- there is also an important social aspect.

Teens may think they're being social online, but that can't take the place of face-to-face relationships, Diaz stressed.

"It's important for kids to be connected to people," she said, "and not just isolated in their own rooms."

Hogan agreed. "Social-media tools are great. We all use them," she said. "But you also have to get out there and talk to people."

That advice goes for adults, too. "Parents have to be role models," Diaz said. Families need to sit down together for meals and have conversations, she said -- which means turning off the TV and ignoring the phones and other devices they use all day.

Hogan said parents should also ban TVs and computers from their kids' bedrooms. That's, in part, so they can monitor what kids are doing online. But it's also to ensure that screen time is not getting in the way of sleep time.

"Research is showing that screen use at night really disrupts sleep," Hogan said. "And it is absolutely key that kids, including teenagers, get enough sleep."

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