Doctors Recommend New Limits On Teens Social Media Use - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Doctors Recommend New Limits On Teens Social Media Use

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WMDT 47 NEWS – Next to sleep, social media is the second most common activity that children spend their time doing during the day.

"Social media has outgrown school and learning," says Dr. Harry Lehman III, a Maryland Board Certified Pediatrician.

For this reason, the American Pediatrics Association is recommending a new policy that advises children and teenagers to use no more than two hours on the Internet for entertainment, including Facebook, Twitter, TV, and movies. Online homework is the only exception. The policy is an expansion to their longstanding recommendations for banning televisions from children's and teen's bedrooms and limiting entertainment screen time to no more than two hours daily.

"Currently, 75 percent of kids have a TV in their room," says Dr. Lehman.

The main concern behind the policy is the access to certain content that children can have without parents knowing.

"You don't know what they could get into," says Deborah Bell, a Salisbury, Maryland resident.

"They can get into a lot of bad content and be influenced, for instance, pornography," says Dr. Kathryn Seifert, a psychologist with Eastern Shore Psychological Services.

Some experts recommend the best thing for parents to do is be involved with what their children are doing, especially when it comes to what they are watching behind a screen.

"Whether they're playing outside with their friends or whether they are on the Internet, either way, it's the parental interference that will determine whether the kids get in trouble or don't get in trouble, or get into things they shouldn't be," says Dr. Seifert.

"When your children are in front of a screen a parent should be with them," says Dr. Lehman.

With many kids, especially teens, concerned about their privacy, intervening is not always an easy task. Dr. Lehman recommends implementing a "family plan" and implementing a "technology-free bedroom."

"Keep a central place to plug-in and recharge all electronics at night, not just your children but parents as well. Everyone should take their social media outlets, or anything that's connected and move it down to a central area, such as a kitchen."

Experts also recommend that while the recommendations do suggest a certain amount of time, parents should set their own limits.

"I think making a one size fits all pronouncement on children is too simplified, it's more about the parental involvement," says Dr Seifert.

"If children are supervised and taught how to properly use social media, they should be able to have a little freedom," says Dr. Lehman. "It's something that has to be earned though, rather than freely given."

Both Dr. Lehman and Dr. Seifert agree that there are also a lot of benefits to social media.

"We need to recognize there's really good stuff too, we have a real opportunity to do something that engages children and holds their attention," says Dr. Seifert. "I think we need to embrace it for that purpose."

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