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Children are overexposed to media, study finds

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says kids should spend no more than 2 hours a day on social media and entertainment sites. The American Academy of Pediatrics says kids should spend no more than 2 hours a day on social media and entertainment sites.

From cellphones to tablets, kids have access to the Internet more than ever these days.

But there's concern that children are getting too much screen time.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says kids should spend no more than 2 hours a day on social media and entertainment sites, yet a recent study found that the average 8- to 11-year-old spends 8 hours a day in front of a screen.

Technology has become so common-place in the classroom that it can be difficult to cut down on the time students spend on laptops and tablets.

From video editing to creating music or simply taking notes, the technology is there to help kids learn at schools like the School for Creative Studies, which is one of several schools in Durham where every student has a device such as a laptop.

"Almost every class we are using it to take notes or research things," 14-year-old Safiya Gallaghan said. "It's really a handy thing when it comes to taking notes."

Social Studies teacher Alison Edwards explained that the use of technology like laptops and tablets helps to motivate the students.

"They're more willing to do something when they see that instantaneous connection. For some reason, when it's on the computer, they love it," Edwards said.

Still, she said the amount of use needs to be moderated.

"There's also opportunity where we close our computers and have discussions because that's one of those skills that when they're on that technology that they're not getting," Edwards said. "How do I interact with another person?"

While teachers can limit screen time at school, the study says that smartphones and computers should stay out of bedrooms as well. Unrestricted use is linked to violence, obesity and sleep deprivation, the American Academy of Pediatrics says.

"We have rules for free time," Safiya said of using technology at home. "Usually for just half an hour."

Khalil Tompkins, 14, added, "We're not allowed to have any type of technology when we eat. We just talk to each other about how our day was."

Makeba Wilbourn, an assistant professor in Duke University's Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, said it's difficult to know the true, long-term impact that media has on young kids.

"By the time we figure that out, we'll have a new sort of obstacle, a new game in town," said Wilbourn, who specializes in the development of children. "Plus there's this generational difference as well."

The Academy of Pediatrics recommends no media for kids under 2 years old, however Wilbourn said that may not be practical.

"I think it's really important for us to sit down and think about what our values are, what are the things that are really important to us and how can we use technology to bolster that instead of allowing technology to change the values?," Wilbourn said.

A study by the non-partisan, non-profit group Common Sense Media found that children 8 years old and younger are watching television about 12 minutes a day less than they were 2 years ago. But on mobile devices, they are averaging 10 minutes longer.


Justin Quesinberry

Justin is a reporter for WNCN and a North Carolina native. He has spent the better part of the last decade covering the news in central North Carolina.  More>>

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