Sixty-five percent of children are spending three or more hours per day on such devices, the poll showed.
Only 25% of parents say their efforts to limit screen time for their children are very successful, according to the poll of parents in New York City and on Long Island. Sixty-two percent of parents said they do not use any parental control settings on their children's screen devices.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has warned that too much screen time – especially in young children – can delay cognitive, language, social and emotional development and possibly be a factor in childhood obesity. The Academy, for instance, recommends limiting screen time for children between two to five years of age to no more than one hour per day of high-quality programming.
But the poll results show that less than half of parents surveyed knew about these recommendations, and only 13% heard about them from their pediatrician.
The smartphone is the device eating up most of children's non-academic screen time (33%), with the tablet (29%) and TV (28%) following close behind, the poll showed.
Nearly half of parents polled – 45 percent – said they don't even try to limit the time their children spend on smartphones, tablets, computers and watching TV.
Fifty-one percent of parents of a child age 6 and under said they use parental controls to monitor their children's screen time, but parental control drops significantly as a child ages. About seven in ten parents of metro-area children age 10 and under take measures to limit their children's screen time, but only 36% of parents of a teen actively try.
"Parents are not doing enough to limit the amount of time their kids spend on devices. There are evidence-based studies that continue to show associations between excessive media use and delays in brain development, especially among small children," said Dr. Warren Rosenfeld, chairman of pediatrics at South Nassau.
Dr. Adhi Sharma, South Nassau's chief medical officer and executive vice president, said the poll's findings underline the importance of educating parents about the AAP's screen time recommendations. He added that parents themselves need to set better examples for their children.
Other key findings from the poll include:
· The average New York/Long Island household with children has 3 smartphones, 2.89 televisions, 2 tablets, and 1.65 computers.
· Only 7% use a desktop or laptop computer as their main screen for non-academic purposes. More than 90% of children prefer to spend their screen time on smartphones or tablets or in front of a TV.
· Families with parents who restrict their children's screen time or use parental controls are more likely to eat dinner together.
The South Nassau Truth in Medicine Poll, sponsored by Bethpage Federal Credit Union, is a quarterly survey of 600 Long Island and New York City residents that aims to gather data about public attitudes on key public health topics and help spur public education to improve public health.
The poll shows that parents do make efforts to restrict screen time in younger children, but give up much control as their children age and find little success in their methods to limit screen time. A majority (51%) of parents of children age 6 and under use parental controls, compared to 47% of parents of a child age 7-10, 37% of a child age 11-13 and only 21% of parents of a child age 14-17. Parents who use control settings are more likely to restrict screen time, which directly correlates to children using less screen time per day.
"The statistics uncovered in the survey are startling and hopefully will motivate parents to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendations by reducing their children's screen time," said Linda Armyn, senior vice president, corporate affairs, Bethpage Federal Credit Union. "Bethpage is proud to provide its support to South Nassau, which indisputably, continues to uncover data that is vital to our community's health and well-being. As always, we applaud South Nassau for their ongoing efforts."
The South Nassau poll found slight variations of attitudes about screen time that at times broke down along geographical and racial lines. The poll found that:
· Screen time usage among children is higher on Long Island than in New York City; usage is higher among children of color
· Parents in New York City are slightly more likely to use control settings than on Long Island
· White parents are more likely to restrict screen time than parents of color
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