Experts Warn That Children May Be Getting Too Much Tablet Time

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UPDATED: Wednesday February 12, 2014 6:09 PM

Could too much tablet time be hurting your child?

It’s an issue that doctors are already warning parents about.

Nena Hayes loves dance, so much so that it may be the one activity that stands in the way of her other favorite - technology.

“It’s fun to use,” says Nena.

“She'll come in and immediately she's face timing her friend, making a snack, walking around the kitchen and talking to each other,” said Nena’s mother, Denise Hayes.

The King boys love technology, too. Their parents say the boys were using their work iPads for games.

"They were seeing us using it, and then hearing about it at school from some of the older kids, they got interested and starting it on our work iPads,” said Danielle King.

“I like the iPad because, like it has some of my favorite games on it,” admitted Landon King.

Tech experts say tablet sales are rising so quickly, they believe the tablet market is going to overtake personal computer and notebook computer shipments this year.

"There are more TVs, DVD players, handheld devices, tablet pcs and then smart phones which play games,” said Dr. Daniel Coury.

All of those tablets translate to a lot of use - or over use.

Dr. Coury of Nationwide Children's Hospital says just like television, technology for kids in the first grade through high school should not exceed two hours a day.
 
"We end up with children who have decreased social skills because they're not interacting with each other like you and I are. They have obesity. They have less physical activity,” he says.

Coury recommends parents download apps that will track the time and turn off a tablet once the limit is reached. They should monitor use, especially if there is internet access.

He says parents can institute a so-called "tech check" at night:  all devices are turned off and stored away from sleeping areas.

The families we spoke with have a few other rules that you might find helpful at your home:

They include no texting after 9 p.m. on school nights and quitting tablet use an hour before bedtime.

One other rule of thumb from the experts is for parents:  your children are watching how you use technology.  

The adage is true that it's not what you say but what you do.

WEB EXTRA

Here are applications you could try for limiting/monitoring your child’s tablet use. I found them in the App Store.  You should read the fine print etc. to make sure they are right for your family’s use.

Kaboom-App Timer—costs .99 (ninety-nine) cents.  This app should be turned ON before you run anyother app.  It runs in the background prevents the user from using the device once the set “PLAY” time is over.

Web Guardian—free; enable browsing for a length of time you specify; protect internet access by setting a PIN code

Kiddy Timer (LimeFuse, LLC)—free but offers in-app purchases; you can time activities including technology, toothbrushing etc.

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