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Too Much Screen Time? What Clinicians Can Do to Help

Gaming Disorder? The World Health Organization defines it as pattern of digital or video-gaming marked by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming. . .  and continuation or escalation of gaming despite negative consequences[1]. The diagnosis depends on whether the gaming behavior is sufficiently severe enough to impair personal or family relationships, school, or job for at least 12 months.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that children now spend 7 hours every day, on average, on “screen time” with various mobile devices. The Academy offers a variety of tools to help you help parents develop a family media plan: the goal is to help children consume media judiciously. This link is a portal to a variety of the AAP’s resources, including a report on digital media use by children and adolescents and digital media and the AAP’s policy statement on media and young minds

Facebook and Instagram (which Facebook owns) have recently introduced tools that enable users to measure and set daily limits on the amount of time they spend on these sites. You will find more information about these additions to the sites here.

To what extent are violent videogames related to the epidemic of youth violence? In a newly published article in the Journal of the American Academy of PAs, authors Grossman and Paulsen[2cite these games as one of many contributors factors – along with poverty, substance abuse, access to weapons, and mental illness. These authors offer these and other tips to help you help your patients whose lives have been adversely affected by addiction to videogames:

  1. Ask specific questions about media use —  eg, how much screen time does your child consume every day? Is the “screen” accessible in his/her bedroom?
  2. Offer parents and patients information (eg, the AAP’s website) about the potential effects of screen addition and violent media.
  3. Encourage healthy media habits, which can include a “screen-free” week, eating together without any screens, and ensuring that screens (including cell phones) stay in shared areas of the home — not the child’s bedroom.

You can find more useful tips here.

Last updated on 9/14/19.

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