MedWatch-Screen time

MedWatch-Screen time

(ABC) -Researchers with the American Academy of Pediatrics say kids are spending as many as seven hours a day in front of screens. This unhealthy habit is addicting for some kids.

Dr. Joe Austerman is a psychiatrist at Cleveland Clinic Children's who says parents should pay attention to the warning signs.

"If there is any change in mood or any change in anxiety or especially if you're trying to get your child off the video games and you see that they become explosive, or they have a really strong attachment to these video games," Dr. Austerman said.

Dr. Austerman says if your child is spending more and more time in front of a screen, or even sneaking time, they may be developing an addiction. He says to watch to see if they're picking screen time over hanging out with family, friends or playing outside, or if their grades are going down.

Dr. Austerman says to control a child's screen time, draw up a contract that promotes self-regulation. If your child does a good job walking away from the screens when they're supposed to, give them a small prize. If they have trouble, you can limit access altogether.

"You say 'now tomorrow, because you broke the rules you don't get any screen time,' so you use the carrot and the stick method and I think that works really well with children," Dr. Austerman said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends no more than two hours of screen time per day. That includes smart phones, computers, tablets and television.

In other health news, April is Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness month and the Leah M. Fitch Cancer Center in Lawton is having the 'just say ahh' screenings on Saturday, April 16, from 8 a.m. until noon. For more information or to make an appointment, call 580-250-6565.

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