Digital dangers: Limiting computer time for kids

Digital dangers: Limiting computer time for kids

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by Cathy Marshall

Bio | Email | Follow: @CathyMarshall8

kgw.com

Posted on February 26, 2013 at 6:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 27 at 9:20 AM

PORTLAND - Computers, iPads, tablets and smart phones are a way of life -- and not just for adults.

Children are getting more screen time than ever before. But how much is too much?

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that depends on the child's age. They recommend two hours maximum for an elementary age child. And not all at one time.

"Short bursts of time. You have to really think about the total screen time for the day," according to Dr. Martine Richardson Sachs, a developmental pediatrician at Providence hospital.

That includes all screen time, from video games and television to smart phones, computers and iPads.

For middle and high school-age children, experts say screen time should be open to discussion since some schools use computers for homework assignments. But they say parents should not be afraid to check up on their child.

"If their homework is spreading out over six hours because they're Facebooking," it may be time to step in, Dr. Richardson Sachs says.

What about the impact on young eyes? Dr. Daniel Karr, a pediatric ophthalmologist at the Casey Eye Institute says, the main issues are fatigue, prolonged focus and position. Even more reason to break up computer time into short bursts.

That breaks the fatigue associated with focusing on a screen a just few inches away. That way young eyes can relax. And the child’s risk of developing near-sightedness drops.

Doctors also recommend children turn away from any screen at least a half hour before bed. Studies show screen time limits our body's ability to produce melatonin and can make it tough to get a good night's sleep.

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