The two strongest influencers on children’s attitudes toward their body image are their family unit and media. As clinicians, we must be attuned to our patients’ family dynamics and their online activities — and understand how these environmental factors influence their psychological and physical health. …Read More
Children are exposed to screens earlier in life and for longer periods than ever before. Mobile technology has pervaded our society to the point where doctors and parents alike are asking: what effect is this having on young minds? On brain development? On socialization?
How much “screen time” is too much? How young is too young? And, of course, the follow-up question of our time: are all apps created equal?
Michael Rich, MD, director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital, has a crystal-clear message. “This is a critical part of parenting in the 21st century,” he says. “It is no longer a fringe issue. The first thing we have to do with pediatricians, he says, is get them to talk about it.
Rich, also known as “The Mediatrician,” conducted research that helped inform the American Academy of Pediatrics’ latest recommendations for children’s media use. …Read More
How much screen time is too much? That’s the essence of a question one parent sent in to Boston Children’s Hospital’s Mediatrician, Michael Rich, MD, MPH, director of the hospital’s Center on Media and Child Health, about the hours upon hours her preteen daughter spends on the computer playing Minecraft.
Rich notes that as screens have become ever present in society, the pediatric establishment’s view on screen time has evolved:
As technologies continue to develop and screen media become more and more prevalent in all of our lives, experts including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) are moving away from the concept of screen time limits for children.
Before offering advice on how to talk to her daughter about her Minecraft time, Rich adds that families need to view a child’s on- and offline activities in the context of her age and developmental needs:
Remember, your daughter is at a stage in life where one of her key developmental tasks is how to prioritize activities and manage her time. Her academic and social demands are increasing and she is moving out of the nuclear family unit to a much larger universe of peers and the public. Minecraft is just one of many activities she will need to prioritize, put into perspective and ultimately regulate in terms of her time and attention. Ironically, time management and getting enough rest is essential to success within the game of Minecraft.
Are youth losing the ability to communicate face-to-face? A worried mother and student of media recently put that question to Boston Children’s Hospital’s Mediatrician, Michael Rich, MD, MPH, director of the hospital’s Center on Media and Child Health.
In his reply on our sister blog Thriving, Rich does not paint a comforting picture:
[Young people] have more connectivity than ever — and far less connectedness to others and to the world.
Not only are they disconnected in the moment, but this focus on devices can hinder their development of the social skills needed to communicate with others in-person.
But the issue is more nuanced than just too much time with screens:
Mobile phones are just tools and, used in healthy and safe ways, can help us communicate and stay connected (or reconnect) to people we love and can help us form new relationships with others all over the world. Technology only distances us when we misuse these tools by allowing them to come between us rather than connecting us.