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TEAM COVERAGE-How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Your Kids? - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

TEAM COVERAGE-How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Your Kids?

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KTBS 3 News and The Times newspaper have teamed up for In-Depth coverage of a troubling issue facing society today -- Distracted Parenting. Our partnership continues with a look at Parenting in an Age of Technology.  

SHREVEPORT, LA. - Technology is a great learning tool for our kids but that doesn't mean they should have unlimited access to the TV or iPad.

In fact, there's a limit to how much we should let our kids play with technology or they could face some consequences.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends two hours a day maximum of television time for children and we recommend starting access to screen time at age two," said Dr. Wanda Thomas, Department of Pediatrics at LSU Health Shreveport.

RELATED STORY - TEAM COVERAGE-Distracted Parents: Are We Ignoring Our Kids?

If parents let their kids play with devices too much, their kids could suffer.

"They'll look at television late at night as opposed to having a good sleep routine," said Dr. Thomas. "We've also seen children who are sitting too close to the television for video games or not redirecting their focus, starting to have problems with their vision. I hear from patients, from parents who say that the way children write is totally different because no one writes anymore we either type or text."

That's why mother of three Jennifer Thurman makes sure to have other activities on hand as well.

"I keep a bag and it has a book, a rainbow loom, some markers, and just some good old fashioned paper and colors," she said.

Technology isn't all bad, but Dr. Thomas says there should be limits.

"Don't allow your child to use it as a babysitter," said Thomas.

If you do, you could miss out on key parenting moments.

"At every developmental stage, there are important milestones that are occurring that the parent really needs to be attending to or helping the child with," said Dr. Michelle Yetman, Clinical Psychologist LSU Health Shreveport. "In infancy, there's this really critical bonding time between the parent and the baby that's occurring, in toddlers there's language developing and we know that language doesn't occur in isolation."

When you do let you child play with a device, know that not all screen time is created equal.

"As far as passive devices go, a lot of entertainment sites are things for them to simply watch," said Dr. Thomas. "You also have interactive devices on your handhelds where children are actively figuring out a puzzle, or building something which is very stimulating for the mind."

Some parents worry their children aren't being as creative because they have technology to tell them how to play.

Dr. Thomas says they'll be fine if you just keep the balance.

"Children have an imagination," she said. "It's just a part of who they are and you'll see it every day with your children on the playground, you'll hear it in the conversations they have with their peers. So, I think that the imagination will never cease."

It's important to note, just because the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends two hours of screen time a day max, every child is different.

Dr. Yetman says if your child is acting out a lot, try limiting their device time and adding more one-on-one time.

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