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Is television time hurting your child?

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If you want healthy kids, doctors warn limiting the amount of time they spend in front of the television, computer and video games. Frequent media use is linked to a host of negative health factors for kids, including violence, obesity, and drug use. How much is too much?

American children spend an average of 6 hours per day watching television, using the computer, and playing video games. That is more time than they spend on reading and writing in school. Doctors say that parents do not realize the effects that popular media can have on children and teenagers.

A paper published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association notes that increased media time among children has been linked to a greater chance of obesity, smoking, violent behavior, and eating disorders.

Experts agree that media use can be helpful to kids; educational programs can teach children about science or animal life, and the internet is a valuable research tool. But kids are getting too much unsupervised ‘screen time,’ doctors warn. Many children have televisions, computers and cell phones in their bedrooms.

The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to limit kids’ media use to two hours per day, and to discuss the content of programs and games with their children to that the media messages are balanced by thoughtful parental guidance.

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Story summary

If you want healthy kids, doctors warn limiting the amount of time they spend in front of the television, computer and video games.

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