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Health & Parenting

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TV, Internet Affect Kids' Weight and Sleep

American Academy of Pediatrics Warns of Media's Impact on Children's Health

Media's Effect on Children's Sleep continued...

In addition, evening media use of any type was associated with an increased risk of sleep problems. Researchers found each additional hour of daytime violent media content or evening media use was associated with an increase in the likelihood of sleep problems among children.

Researchers also found children who had a television in the bedroom watched more media and were more likely to have sleep problems. Children who had a bedroom TV averaged an additional 15 minutes of evening use each night and an extra 12 minutes of violent content viewed during the day.

Advice to Parents

The AAP's policy statement says mounting evidence shows that media have an influence on children's weight in ways beyond just making them more sedentary.

These and other recent studies suggest that media have negative effects on children's eating habits by increasing craving for junk food and fast food and increasing snacking while watching TV.

Violent content and late-night viewing may also interfere with children's sleep, which can put kids at risk for obesity.

The statement recommends that pediatricians and parents work to reduce the effects of media on childhood obesity by:

  • Discussing food advertising with children while monitoring TV viewing and teaching them about good nutrition.
  • Limiting total, non-educational screen time to no more than two hours per day and avoid putting TV sets and Internet connections in children's bedrooms.
  • Working with community groups and schools to implement media education programs in classrooms, child care centers, and community centers.
  • Being aware that children with a lot of screen time also have more stress, which increases the risk for obesity as well as diabetes, mood disorders, and asthma.

The AAP advocates a ban on junk food advertising and restrictions on interactive food advertising to young children via digital media.

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