390 Lincoln Road
Sudbury, MA 01776
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Contact: John Guilfoil
Sudbury Lincoln CRANE Newsletter May 10
FEATURED TOPIC: Children & Technology
Children and adolescents today are constantly immersed in technology and digital media and the amount of time that youths are spending on TV, computers, smartphones and other screens is raising concerns about the amount of screen time that youths are getting.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (APA), media can influence how children and teens feel, learn, think and behave. Overuse of digital media and screens may also put your child at risk of:
- Obesity. Excessive screen use, as well as having a TV in the bedroom, can increase the risk of obesity. Teens who watch more than five hours of TV per day are five times more likely to be overweight than teens who watch zero to two hours. Watching TV for more than 1.5 hours daily is a risk factor for obesity for children 4 through 9 years of age. This is in part due to the fact that viewers are exposed to advertising for high-calorie foods. Viewers are also more likely to snack or overeat while watching screen media.
- Sleep problems. Media use can interfere with sleep. Children and teens who spend more time with social media or who sleep with mobile devices in their rooms are at greater risk for sleep problems. Exposure to light (particularly blue light) and stimulating content from screens can delay or disrupt sleep, and have a negative effect on school.
- Problematic internet use. Children who overuse online media can be at risk for problematic Internet use. Heavy video gamers are at risk for Internet gaming disorder. They spend most of their free time online, and show less interest in offline or “real-life” relationships. Four percent to 8 percent of children and teens may have problems limiting their Internet use, and almost 10 percent of US youth 8 to 18 years of age may have Internet gaming disorder. There may be increased risks for depression at both the high and low ends of Internet use.
- Negative effect on school performance. Children and teens often use entertainment media at the same time that they’re doing other things, such as homework. Such multi-tasking can have a negative effect on school.
- Risky behaviors. Teens’ displays on social media often show risky behaviors, such as substance use, sexual behaviors, self-injury, or eating disorders. Exposure of teens through media to alcohol, tobacco use, or sexual behaviors is associated with earlier initiation of these behaviors.
- Sexting, privacy and predators. Sexting is sending nude or semi-nude images as well as sexually explicit text messages using a cell phone. About 12 percent of youth age 10 to 19 years of age have sent a sexual photo to someone else. Teens need to know that once content is shared with others they may not be able to delete or remove it completely. They may also not know about or choose not to use privacy settings. Another risk is that sex offenders may use social networking, chat rooms, e-mail, and online games to contact and exploit children.
- Cyberbullying. Children and teens online can be victims of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can lead to short- and long-term negative social, academic, and health issues for both the bully and the target. Fortunately, programs to help prevent bullying may reduce cyberbullying.
While too much screen time can be harmful to youths, technology in moderation is OK and can even have some benefits. The APA recommends that entertainment “screen time” be limited to two hours a day for children between the ages of 3-18, and for children 2 years of age and younger, none at all. Children and teens also shouldn’t sleep with devices in their bedrooms, including TVs, computers and smartphones.
Parents should develop personalized media use plans for their children, taking into account their child’s age, health, personality and developmental stage, and teach children about the importance of privacy online.
Parents and guardians should encourage children to spend more time off screen and take advantage of the many programs, activities and groups that Sudbury and Lincoln have to offer, especially with summer approaching.
For more information about the effects of technology on children visit the American Academy of Pediatrics healthychildren.org website.
Tuesday, May 9 at 7 p.m. at the Brooks Auditorium in Lincoln
Kids Count, Too!
Tuesday, May 10 at 5:30 p.m. at the Community Senior Center in Natick
Research Collaboration on the Prosecution of Child Sexual Abuse
Thursday, May 11 at 12:30 p.m. at the Wellesley Centers for Women
Sudbury SEPAC Lotus Blossom Fundraiser
Tuesday, May 30 from 5-9 p.m. at Lotus Blossom
William James College INTERFACE Referral Service is a mental health and wellness referral line available to families in the Sudbury and Lincoln Communities as well as Boston families with children in the Sudbury and Lincoln schools. This free and confidential service is available to residents of all ages in member towns.
Callers will be asked to describe their need and provide insurance, appointment time and location preferences. INTERFACE staff will then use their extensive database to find a licensed therapist or provider match with the appropriate specialization. They are able to make referrals in the Sudbury, Lincoln and Boston areas. INTERFACE is available Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 888-244-6843 (toll free).