Children should spend no more than two hours a day on the internet, according to official advice from doctors.
The American Academy of Pediatrics say the limit also applies to watching TV and that smartphones and laptops should be kept out of youngsters’ bedrooms.
Dr Victor Strasburger of the University of New Mexico, lead author of the guidelines, says: “I guarantee you that if you have a 14-year-old boy and he has an internet connection in his bedroom, he is looking at pornography.”
The Academy report says many youngsters watch TV online and send texts after “lights out” including sexually explicit images.
The paediatricians’ group says parents need to know that unrestricted media use can have serious consequences, the Associated Press reports.
It’s been linked with violence, cyberbullying, school woes, obesity, lack of sleep and a host of other problems.
It’s not a major cause of these troubles, but ‘many parents are clueless’ about the profound impact media exposure can have on their children, Dr Strasburger says.
“This is the 21st century and they need to get with it,” said Strasburger.
The policy is aimed at all children, including those who use smartphones, computers and other internet-connected devices. It expands the academy’s longstanding recommendations on banning televisions from children’s and teens’ bedrooms and limiting entertainment screen time to no more than two hours daily.
Under the new policy, those two hours include using the internet for entertainment, including Facebook, Twitter, TV and movies; online homework is an exception.
The policy notes that three-quarters of children aged 12 to 17 own cellphones; nearly all teens send text messages, and many younger kids have phones giving them online access.
“Young people now spend more time with media than they do in school — it is the leading activity for children and teenagers other than sleeping” the policy says.
Strasburger says he realised many children will scoff at advice from pediatricians — or any adults, Associated Press reports.
“After all, they’re the experts! We’re media-Neanderthals to them,” he said. But he said he hopes it will lead to more limits from parents and schools, and more government research on the effects of media.
The policy was published online on November 4, 2013 in the journal, Pediatrics.
A Daily Mail article.