I have discussed the increasing rates of childhood obesity several times previously. Many children and adolescents simply fail to get enough physical activity in their daily lives. Instead, what seems to have taken the place of exercise and sports is media consumption and screen time – TV, computers, video games, iPads and other tablets, cell phones and social media.

In 2013, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Communications and Media issued a policy statement on this topic. They offered some recommendations for reversing this trend (I’ll discuss these tips and offer some of my own in Part 2 on this topic). What surprised me when reading this policy statement were some statistics that demonstrated just how big of a problem media consumption in all forms really is for kids.

We need to decrease the amount of screen time kids have.

Here are 10 statistics on television, social media, cell phones and other forms of media consumption:

1. 8- to 10-year-olds spend about eight hours each day engaging in various forms of media.
2. Older children spend over 11 hours each day on their phones, watching TV or using different media.
3. Children and adolescents spend more time with these forms of media than they spend in school.
4. Kids spend more time each day with these media than doing anything else except sleeping.
5. 71% of children and adolescents have televisions in their bedrooms.
6. 75% of adolescents aged 12 to 17 have a cell phone.
7. Kids between the ages of 13 and 17 send an average of 3364 text messages per month.
8. Half of teenagers send 50 text messages or more every day. One third send 100 or more texts a day.
9. Over 60% of teenagers text after they go to bed, leading to fatigue at school.
10. Two thirds of kids say their parents do not have rules regarding media time.

Also read:
Encourage kids to get outside and play
Let’s encourage kids to play with their friends
Moms: Turn off the TV and video games and get your families active!

Check out Part 2 of this series. I discuss recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics for decreasing media usage and screen time of kids, and I offer some thoughts of my own.

Woman typing on her phone

Children, Adolescents, and the Media. Council on Communications and Media. Pediatrics 2013;132;958; originally published online October 28, 2013.