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Daily Dose

Kids & Too Much TV

1.00 to read

Another new study has just been released which confirms that children are getting close to 4 hours of background TV noise each day. While many parents are aware of the need to limit their children’s active screen time (which includes TV, video game, telephone texting and computer screens) to no more than 2 hours per day, background TV time may be equally important. The American Academy of Pediatrics also discourages any TV viewing for children under age 2 years. 

The study from The University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication defines background TV as “TV that is on in the vicinity of the child that the child is not attending to”.  The research looked at TV exposure in 1,454 households with children aged 8 months-8 years. The study found that younger children and African-American kids were exposed to more background TV than other children.  Having background TV noise of any kind can disrupt mental tasks for all and may also interfere with language development in younger children. 

Those households that had the least background TV exposure were those that did not have a TV in the child’s room!! That doesn’t seem to be a surprising finding at all. Many parents leave the TV on in a child’s room to help them sleep, although there are numerous studies to show exactly the opposite effect, TV disrupts sleep. I now routinely ask every parent during their child’s check up if there is a TV in the child’s room. I also ask every older child the same question, and there are many teens who are not happy with me when I encourage their parents to take the TV out of the bedroom of their adolescent. There is just no need to have a TV in the bedroom of children of any age.  I have given up on this discussion with my college aged patients! 

While many parents are doing a good job of monitoring what their children are watching on TV, and how long they are watching, we may not be doing as well when it comes to background TV.  While older kids hear news stories or language that they needn’t be exposed to, a younger child’s language skills may be delayed due to background TV noise. 

So, the kitchen TV needn’t be on while you are making your children their breakfast before school or in the evening while eating dinner. Family dinner is one of the most important times of the day and conversation is the key. No one needs to try to talk over the TV, just turn it off! 

Lastly, keep reading those bedtime stories for children of all ages; this is key to language, and appropriate language at that. 

That’s your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow.

Daily Dose

Kids & Too Much TV

1.00 to read

Another new study has just been released which confirms that children are getting close to 4 hours of background TV noise each day. While many parents are aware of the need to limit their children’s active screen time (which includes TV, video game, telephone texting and computer screens) to no more than 2 hours per day, background TV time may be equally important. The American Academy of Pediatrics also discourages any TV viewing for children under age 2 years. 

The study from The University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication defines background TV as “TV that is on in the vicinity of the child that the child is not attending to”.  The research looked at TV exposure in 1,454 households with children aged 8 months-8 years. The study found that younger children and African-American kids were exposed to more background TV than other children.  Having background TV noise of any kind can disrupt mental tasks for all and may also interfere with language development in younger children. 

Those households that had the least background TV exposure were those that did not have a TV in the child’s room!! That doesn’t seem to be a surprising finding at all. Many parents leave the TV on in a child’s room to help them sleep, although there are numerous studies to show exactly the opposite effect, TV disrupts sleep. I now routinely ask every parent during their child’s check up if there is a TV in the child’s room. I also ask every older child the same question, and there are many teens who are not happy with me when I encourage their parents to take the TV out of the bedroom of their adolescent. There is just no need to have a TV in the bedroom of children of any age.  I have given up on this discussion with my college aged patients! 

While many parents are doing a good job of monitoring what their children are watching on TV, and how long they are watching, we may not be doing as well when it comes to background TV.  While older kids hear news stories or language that they needn’t be exposed to, a younger child’s language skills may be delayed due to background TV noise. 

So, the kitchen TV needn’t be on while you are making your children their breakfast before school or in the evening while eating dinner. Family dinner is one of the most important times of the day and conversation is the key. No one needs to try to talk over the TV, just turn it off! 

Lastly, keep reading those bedtime stories for children of all ages; this is key to language, and appropriate language at that. 

That’s your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow.

Daily Dose

Entertaining Kids in the Waiting Room

Here's a dilemma: how do you entertain your kids while waiting in the pediatrician's office?What a busy day back in the office post holiday weekend! When I walk into an exam room, I'm always curious to see what my patients and their parents are doing while they wait (wish I never ran late and no one ever waited!).  At any rate, I got into a really interesting discussions with several parents as to what we should have in our waiting room and exam rooms to help make the waiting easier.

A mini poll revealed no clear consensus but there were some very intriguing ideas and comments. Our group practice “voted” last year to put TV’s in our waiting rooms. For the record I voted NO, as I thought it was hypocritical to have TV’s in our office when we were discussing limiting screen time (TV, computer etc) with our families. But, majority rules, and I lost, so we have TV’s in all of our waiting areas. Now, when the TV’s were all installed, it was decided that they would not be on all day long. Instead, there would be TV time as well as quiet time as we have reading and “library” areas in our waiting room too. Just like many homes, I realized that the TV came on at 8:30 am and stayed on until 10 pm at night. Our practice never had designated “reading time”.  Despite having books, most of the kids and parents opted to watch the Disney channel on TV. So, two different parents spoke to me today about our TV selections and how they seemed to be geared to older children.  I thought we watched Disney, but must admit I am not in the waiting room censoring TV or watching what TV shows are on throughout the day. The best line of the day was a precocious, adorable 5 year old who told me, “my Mommy says your office is inappropriate.”  Of course I immediately thought she was talking about waiting. But, upon further questioning not only could she tell me what the word inappropriate meant, “ if you go outside naked, that is inappropriate” she also told me that it was the TV show that was on while they were in the waiting room that her mother deemed inappropriate.   It happened to be a Disney show with Miley Cyrus. I think I have to agree with her. Probably not age appropriate for all children. Her mother and I got into a great discussion about ideas for better viewing options, including movies like Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music or even The Little Mermaid (there are scary parts there too).  I commend this mom for voicing her opinion and really being aware what her children are watching. This family only has 1 TV in their home.   I think we should hire her to come up with our viewing options and make DVD’s for our office that are more appropriate for all ages. Another mother talked to me about having quiet time and reading in the waiting room. She thinks that this would actually calm bored children while they wait.  (I have very fond memories of reading Highlight’s magazine in the pediatrician’s office with my mother helping to look for the hidden objects).  It would also mean that the parent is engaged while reading with or to a child. She noted that most parents in the waiting room today were on their cell phones or iPads etc. and that the children were either running around or watching TV.  She always brings a bag of books with her when she comes and I bet her children will always have a love of books. Will have to see. I don’t know the right answer, but I really appreciated the comments.  We are going to try and start having our waiting room have designated reading times and TV times and see if we can get to a happy medium. I know we will never make everyone happy but this should be a good start.  Wish us luck! That’s your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow. Send your feedback, comment or email to Dr. Sue!

Daily Dose

No Screen Time for a Week!

Kids are spending over 7 hours a day in front a screen: TV, watching video, playing games event texting. How much is too much?So, how much screen time does your child have?  You know what I mean, TV time, computer time, playing video games, using a cell phone (including texting). The list goes on and on!

The average American child spends 7 hours a day involved with some type of media, which is more than any other activity besides SLEEP! With that being said, this is National Turn Off Week!  My colleagues at the American Academy of Pediatrics are supporting an effort to encourage parents to implement a “screen free week” in their home. If the average child spends over 1000 hours a year involved in some type of media but only 900 hours a year in school it seems obvious that we are doing something wrong. The solution is to start limiting screen time beginning at the earliest ages. With so many parents believing that Baby Einstein videos will make their infant smarter (there is no proof), and parents who are teaching their children to use a computer or I-phone or I-pad by the age of two, early guidelines regarding time spend “on screen” are exceedingly important. The AAP endorses a “no TV for children under the age of two” rule and limiting TV/media time to 2 hours per day for children and teens.  Unfortunately, many parents may know that their children are home, but are not clear about what they are doing while at home, which often involves screen time in the “privacy” of their own rooms. I ask every patient and or parent about media time and if there is a TV or computer in the child’s room. I am continually amazed at how often the answer is yes, even for the elementary school set. Parents often view putting a TV in their child’s room as a “right of passage” despite the fact that there are really good studies to show that having a TV in a child’s room contributes to poor sleep habits which may impact children in many negative ways. I must say, there isn’t a teenager that I take care of that is “happy” that we are discussing media time, but just like other subjects that need to be addressed during a pediatric visit, this one may be more important than previously thought. For all of this interactive screen time may actually be becoming new “peer group” for a child, rather than having face to face time with their peers. So by turning off the “screens” and spending some time enjoying one another, a new normal could be started.  Families cooking together after the homework is finished, or going outside for a family walk or quick game, or reading together, or even playing board games, the list seems endless.  What a treat to get back 2, 3 or even 4 hours a day with your child.  Think about the  benefits that come from decreasing screen time, which include better academics, better sleep, less depression and anxiety and even an impact on obesity. I know it is challenging for all of us, but this is a “do-able” task for a week. While all of the screen are in the “OFF” mode, talk about new guidelines for when the screens go back on.  In this case the adage “less is more” seems appropriate. That's your daily dsoe for today.  We'll chat again tomorrow. Send your question or comment to  Dr. Sue!

Daily Dose

Can TV Impact Language Development?

A new study looks at how television, which may even be background noise, may interfere with parent-child interaction and conversation.There has been a lot written about television watching in children and the effects it has on their overall health and well being, including learning, moods, academics and even sleep habits.

A study published in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine is interesting as it looked at how television, which may even be background noise, may interfere with parent-child interaction and conversation. In this study every hour that a child spent within earshot of a television, fewer words were spoken by the parents to their young children and fewer vocalizations were made by the children. In the United States about 30% of households have their TV's on all the time. Although the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages television or even video viewing (why do all of those Baby Einstein DVD's sell?) before the age of two, parents continue to have televisions and DVD's playing not only at home but in the car, while a child isin their stroller holding the portable DVD or iPhone with a video playing etc. I see this everywhere I go, even in the office exam rooms where we encourage reading a book while waiting, but many toddlers are adept at even turning on their own DVD. This study showed that each additional hour of TV exposure by the child (study children ages 2 months - 4 years) was associated with a decrease of 770 words (about 7%) that the child would hear from an adult during a recording session. Recording sessions were done on random days for up to 24 months during the study. Additionally, the additional hour of TV exposure was associated with a reduction in the number and length of vocalizations in the child. As pediatricians we are always concerned about language development, from the first babbles of a 2 -4 month old your-baby, to first words around 1, followed by putting words together at 15-24 months and then the sentences that 2-4 year olds use which become more complex with age. Could it be that in some children who have language delays that we should be inquiring about television exposure, even as background noise? Pulling out books and music to stimulate language may be old fashioned but seems to be the gold standard. That's your daily dose, we'll chat again tomorrow. Send your question or comment to Dr. Sue!

Daily Dose

Why Videos Don't Educate Infants

Did you see the recent news regarding The Baby Einstein video series? It seems that there was a lawsuit regarding advertising surrounding Baby Einstein, and claims that “the videos can educate infants”.Did you see the recent news regarding The Baby Einstein video series? It seems that there was a lawsuit regarding advertising surrounding Baby Einstein, and claims that “the videos can educate infants”.

Now I must admit that I have only seen the Baby Einstein series while I am at the office and parents bring in their portable DVD players and are showing the videos to their children while they wait. The children are typically between the ages of about nine months to three years. Children do seem to be mesmerized by the videos, but I must say, they didn’t appear to be especially educational, just lots of repetition and colors. But what do I know; I always teased the parent’s that I was probably just envious that I didn’t make the videos. But I do believe that Disney has done the right thing by admitting that you can’t educate infants through a video, and are now going to refund the price of the DVD. They certainly may be entertaining, but as far as making an infant and child smarter, there is certainly no evidence to substantiate that. Parents are the key to educating their children and not TV or videos. How do you educate an infant and young child? It is once again back to the basics. The most important activity you can do with an infant and child is to talk to them. Babies love to hear their parent’s voices. Parents ask me what they should talk about; an infant doesn’t care. Babies just need to hear voices talking to them about anything:  sports, news, what the dog is doing, the weather, you name it, they love to hear language. Babies also need interactive play, with simple toys like rattles, blocks, and books. It doesn’t have to be fancy or have batteries to be worthwhile for your child. Think about simple games like “peek a boo” and “how big is the baby.” What about singing songs and laughing with your baby, it doesn’t get better than that! There are more games to play with your child such as “where are your eyes?” and “where’s Mommy’s nose? “ and “pat a cake”. All of these help a baby reach their developmental milestones. The time spent interacting with your baby is far more valuable than any time they may spend in front of a video player. Baby Einstein may be entertainment, but parents are the real teachers, and Disney seems to agree. That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

Daily Dose

Limit A Child's Access to Media

The estimate is that, on average, our children spend more than six hours a day with either TV, VCR, DVD, DVR, computer and Internet etc.I was just sitting outside this evening reading this week's JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), when I came upon an interesting commentary written on Media and Children. The article is written by Dr. Victor Strasburger, a professor at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, and a prominent pediatric educator and advocate for children.

The focus of the article is how much the media influences our children and adolescents. Just like the previous "daily dose" written on the study of infants and children and background television, our children spend an enormous amount of time involved with media. The estimate is that, on average, our children spend more than six hours a day with either TV, VCR, DVD, DVR, computer and Internet etc. That is more time than they spend in class and definitely more time than they spend talking to their parents (I am using my own children as a barometer here). These youth have access to media, that will probably only continue to grow. The statistics are staggering, 2/3 have a TV in their bedrooms, 1/2 have a VCR or DVD player, 1/2 have a video game console, and almost 1/3 have internet access or a computer. How can parents possibly monitor all of this mixed media? The media in and of itself does not cause direct pediatric health problems, but it most likely contributes to many of the issues we see in our pediatric patients today. The problems with youth violence and aggression may be related to early exposure to guns and violence in the media. Sex is everywhere on TV, even in prime time and there is little discussion or even advertising directed to the consequences of sex. No one seems to get an STD or pregnant from numerous "one night stands" on TV. Smoking, still depicted in movies is a problem as youth continue to become addicted to cigarettes. Alcohol advertising is geared to the youth population with billions being spent per year. Obesity and media seem to be intricately intertwined as our youth view thousands of fast food commercials while they are sedentary and snacking. Lastly, eating disorders, which continue to rise, especially in adolescent females, may be related to how the media portrays beauty and body image. So, I am going to be asking patients once again, how they handle media in their own homes. Do you limit TV and video watching to two hours per day, as recommended by the AAP? Do you let your children have televisions, and video games in their bedrooms? Do you monitor what is on the television and choose shows to watch together, many of which may be excellent family viewing when chosen carefully. Do you let your children go to PG-13 or R rated movies before recommended. I have a lot of work to do to remember to discuss this with each family. It is becoming even more important as we all become more influenced by multi-media outlets and children face even more exposure. Making media a positive learning experience is necessary to ensure the overall health of children. I bet my teenage patients are going to change the subject when we get to these discussions! That's your daily dose, we'll chat again soon.

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Daily Dose

Inspiration For All of Us

How many of you have had the email forwarded to you with the You Tube video of Susan Boyle? If you have not I will attach the link at the end of this and you MUST watch. I started getting the messages last night, and finally opened it this morning. At the same time I was watching this incredible performance it was also hitting the national morning news shows. I watched it again and again, and started my day with a smile on my face and a song in my heart! This video inspires all of us on many levels.

It is also a lesson in "don't judge a book by its cover". Something we often forget, before jumping to premature conclusions. Susan Boyle is a middle-aged woman from the U.K. who performs on Britain's Got Talent (the origins for American Idol). Watch her and be amazed at her story. She is the epitome of "The Little Engine That Could" which was one of my favorite books to read with my own children. She showed us how important it is to believe in yourself. She surprised every one, but herself. Not only will her performance bring tears to your eyes, and make the hair stand up on your neck, it is equally interesting and exciting to watch the audience as they are bowled over by her performance. Next the judges faces, including Simon, as they too are mesmerized with her gift. There was not a person there who thought she would succeed, and boy was everyone pleasantly surprised, and shocked when she opened her mouth to sing. What a great opportunity to tell your children to believe in themselves and they will succeed. "I think I can, I think I can" as the little engine climbed over the hill. That's your daily dose, we'll chat again tomorrow. More Information: Watch Susan Boyle's Appearance on Britain's Got Talent via You Tub

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Your Child

Kids Not Sleeping Well? Could Be the Electronics in the Bedroom!

1:45

If you’re concerned that your child is not getting enough sleep, here’s one way to help him or her rest better and longer. Remove the television and other small electronics from your child’s bedroom.

According to a new study, children who sleep with televisions or other small-screened devices – such as smartphones and tablets – in their bedrooms, spend less time sleeping than children without those devices in their rooms.

“While more studies are needed to confirm our results, we know that too much screen time is bad for children’s health in multiple ways,” said Jennifer Falbe, the study’s lead author from the University of California, Berkley.

Other studies have linked having a televisions in a child’s bedroom to poorer sleep, but there hasn’t been much research into the impact of smaller electronic devices in children’s bedrooms and sleep.

For the new study, Falbe and colleagues used data from 2,048 fourth- and seventh-graders enrolled in an obesity study in Massachusetts. Researchers found that kids with TVs in their rooms slept about 18 minutes less than kids without TVs in their rooms.  When they looked at the effect of sleeping next to small screens, the time spent not sleeping increased to 21 minutes. Less sleep is often tied to other issues including obesity and academic performance.

The children that slept next to small screens also reported feeling as if they didn’t get enough sleep during the night.

Not surprisingly, researchers noted that watching TV and playing video games before bedtime, including those on a computer, was also linked to less sleep.

There are a number of reasons why televisions and small-screened electronics may result in worse sleep, such as the bright light of screens before bed, sounds and alerts and more sedentary activity to name a few

“Parents can keep screen media out of the child’s bedroom, limit total screen time and set a screen time curfew,” Falbe said.

A recent study revealed that reading e-readers, instead of paper books, before bed can actually make you more alert than sleepy. The electronic light appears to shift the body’s circadian rhythms delaying the production of the hormone melatonin.

So it’s no surprise that television, computer, tablet or smartphone light could do the same thing. Watching TV or participating on smaller screen activity also stimulates the brain instead of sending the signal to relax and fall to sleep.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under two avoid screens altogether and that parents establish a “screen-free” zone in the home. Results from this study strongly suggest that one of the screen-free zones be in your child’s bedroom.

Source: Andrew M. Seaman, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/05/us-electronics-pediatrics-sleep-idUSKBN0KE1SI20150105

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