Explainer: Wiretapping in the U.S.
Screen Time: How Much Is Too Much?
Most children spend a lot of time in front of a screen. But how much is too much? Experts don't seem to agree.
From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.
Many children spend a lot of time watching or playing with electronic media – from televisions to video games, computers and other devices.
So, it is natural that parents should wonder about all the time children spend looking at a TV or computer screen. Americans say “screen time” when they talk about any time spent in front of an electronic device.
Perhaps parents should ease up on their concerns about screen time, at least for older boys and girls.
Until last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggested that children and teenagers have no more than two hours of screen time a day.
The academy has since changed that advice.
In October 2016, the group’s members agreed on a policy statement called “Media and Young Minds.” In the statement, they listed a number of suggestions for parents and child care specialists.
Here are some of the suggestions.
- “Avoid digital media use (except video-chatting) in children younger than 18 to 24 months.”
- For children ages 18 to 24 months, choose “high-quality” media with your child. Avoid letting the child watch media alone. And avoid using media as a way to calm your child.
- For children two to five years of age, limit screen time use to one hour of “high-quality programming” a day and watch it with your child.
- For children ages 6 and older, limit time spent using media and the kinds of media. Also, make sure screen time does not take the place of healthy sleep, physical activity and “other behaviors essential to health.”
- Make sure to have media-free times together as a family, such as dinner or driving. Also make some areas of the home media-free. Turn off your child’s electronic devices an hour before bedtime.
The AAP also suggests that doctors “educate parents about brain development in the early years” and the importance of hands-on, free play that builds language, thinking and social skills.
The group also suggests that parents balance a child’s screen time with other activities, such as getting enough sleep, exercising and doing homework.
However, some experts question claims that too much screen time is harmful.
Christopher Ferguson teaches psychology at Stetson University in the American state of Florida. He notes a lack of evidence supporting reports that too many hours spent playing video games or watching TV is truly harmful.
Still, Ferguson notes, many people believe that too much screen time is bad.
"So there's always this kind of sense of there being a zero-sum game that the more time our kids are spending with screens, the less time they're spending with academics, the more they're getting exposed to all kinds of anti-social messages or objectionable messages that we would not like our kids to be exposed to."
However, there are only so many hours in a day. If a child spends six hours a day watching a screen, that is six hours he or she could be doing other things, like reading, enjoying a sport, or simply staring up at the clouds.
Ferguson doesn’t dispute that those activities are important. He seems more interested in one idea: the link between video games and violent or risky behavior.
Ubisoft staff demonstrate the "Far Cry 3" video game during a news conference in Los Angeles, California 2012. (REUTERS/Gus Ruelas)
When he saw results from a recent British survey on screen time, he wanted to know more.
The British study found a small negative effect -- about a one percent increase -- in aggression and depression among children who had six or more hours of screen time a day. He wanted to see if there was a similar effect among young people in the United States.
So, Ferguson and a team of investigators examined answers from a survey on risky behaviors. The study involved about 6,000 boys and girls in Florida. Their average age was 16. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed the questionnaire.
Data from this 2013 survey found that American children are also fairly resistant to the negative effects of electronic media.
Among those who played video games, watched TV or worked on the computer up to six hours a day, the survey found:
- a small increase in delinquency of half of one percent;
- a 1.7 percent increase in signs of depression; and
- a 1.2 percent negative effect on school grades.
The researchers found no increase in risky sex or driving behaviors, use of illegal substances or eating disorders. Ferguson adds that young people can have up to six hours of screen time a day without an increase in problematic behavior.
"Kids actually can consume a larger amount of media than we kind of thought in the past -- up to six hours per day -- without there being any kind of noticeable correlation with problematic behaviors."
The researchers published their findings in the journal Psychiatric Quarterly.
The American Psychological Association created a task force to look at a possible link between video games and violence. In August 2015, the group issued a statementsaying it found that violent video games did lead to aggressive behavior in the player. It also said there is not enough evidence to prove that this link leads to “criminal violence or delinquency.”
Ferguson is openly critical of this APA study and others that link video game use and violence.
To further argue his point that screen time is not harmful, Ferguson adds that children should become familiar with screen technology. Electronic devices, he says, are a part of our everyday lives -- from school to work to our personal lives.
To balance that statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that “parents should not feel pressured to introduce technology early.” The group adds that computer interfaces are very easy for children to learn. Give a child a new electronic device and most likely they will figure it out -- easily.
And that’s the Health & Lifestyle report.
I’m Anna Matteo.
Jessica Berman reported this story for VOANews.com. Anna Matteo adapted her report for Learning English and added additional reporting. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
screen – n. the surface on which the image appears in an electronic display
essential – adj. extremely important and necessary
data – n. factual information (as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation
zero-sum game – phrase : a situation in which one person or group can win something only by causing another person or group to lose it : (Mathematics) (in game theory) a contest in which one person's loss is equal to the other person's gain
survey – v. to ask (many people) a question or a series of questions in order to gather information about what most people do or think about something : (– n.) an activity in which many people are asked a question or a series of questions in order to gather information about what most people do or think about something
negative – adj. harmful or bad : not wanted
delinquency – n. conduct that is out of accord with accepted behavior or the law
consume – v. to use (fuel, time, resources, etc.)
correlation – n. the relationship between things that happen or change together
interface – n. a system that is used for operating a computer : a system that controls the way information is shown to a computer user and the way the user is able to work with the computer
Red shirt “Ko Tee”again focus of attention after weapons discovery
By The Nation
A secondary leader of the red-shirt movement has come under the spotlight again following the alleged discovery of a cache of weapons at a Pathum Thani house linked to him.
Wuthipong Kotthammakhun, who is better known as “Ko Tee”, has been living in self-exile in Laos since the military coup in May 2014. He is wanted for alleged lese majeste.
While in Laos, Ko Tee has regularly hosted a programme broadcast through YouTube’s video-sharing website. He recently talked about preparations for an armed “liberation” to form a so-called federation of Thailand.
The red-shirt leader said the discovery of the weapons was a “set-up” to frame him.
He claimed the proposed revolution to form a federation was in the preparation stage.
Last Saturday, a joint police-military team searched the office of a company called Thai Max Group in Pathum Thani’s Lam Luk Ka district, where Ko Tee had stayed while in Thailand. A large number of weapons were found, including assault rifles, a rocket launcher, hand grenades and ammunitions. A man detained as a result of the operation said the weapons were put under his care by staff of Ko Tee’s community radio station.
Following the discovery, certain red-shirt leaders attempted to disown Ko Tee, saying his group’s hardline stance did not represent the movement’s mainstream non-violence ideology.
For years during the oft-violent confrontations between the rival groups of political colours, Ko Tee ran a community radio called Red Guards Radio in Pathum Thani. Thanks to the broadcasts, he managed to mobilise red-shirt supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on many occasions.
While the controversial Dhammakaya Temple in Pathum Thani was under siege by authorities recently, Ko Tee campaigned for his fellow red shirts to support the “fight” of the temple’s monks and its followers. Judging from what he said in his YouTube videos, Ko Tee and his supporters seem to be convinced that any government attempt to “destroy” Dhammakaya Temple would benefit their fight to form a Thai federation.
Recently, Ko Tee announced a plan to set up a “liberation zone” in Thailand, covering mostly border provinces such as Nakhon Phanom, Khon Kaen, Sa Kaew, Tak and Mae Hong Son. He persuaded red-shirt people to join military training in an area on the other side of the Mekong River.
A former communist insurgent known as “Comrade Luet” is going to be the trainer, according to a source familiar with the matter. Comrade Luet was summoned by the military following the latest coup but he later managed to leave the country and is now living in Laos.
Fugitive red-shirt claims govt set up weapons raid
By The Nation
Police chief says ‘Ko Tee’ sought to mobilise masses, planned violence and assassinations
Fugitive red-shirt leader Wutthipong Kachathamkhun, alias Ko Tee, whose house was raided for weapons on Saturday, has defended himself through a YouTube-based radio programme suggesting that the raid was a government set-up.
However, government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd denied this.
And national police chief Pol General Chaktip Chaijinda insisted yesterday that the seizure of military-grade firearms was linked to moves at Dhammakaya Temple and red-shirt networks.
Chaktip said more weapons are expected to be found hidden in unidentified shipping containers near Bangkok, even though further raids yesterday at several container yards found no firearms.
The police chief said Wutthipong is believed to be behind groups that have instigated mobs of supporters to oppose the government crackdown on Dhammakaya Temple.
He said they also had plans to assassinate national leaders, including Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and deputy premier Prawit Wongsuwan. They had also violated the lese majeste law through content on their radio programme.
Chaktip and other senior police put the firearms seized in the raid on Saturday on display yesterday. He was joined by several senior officers, including Pol Maj-General Sombat Milintajinda, the deputy chief of First Region Provincial Police.
Sombat said one of nine people now in custody was at Dhammakaya Temple when Wutthipong and others were moving to mobilise temple followers to oppose the government crackdown.
Police said there were also plans to assassinate national leaders based on a YouTube radio programme hosted by a person using the alias Sahai Ma Noi.
Container yards searched
In the raid on Saturday, police seized four M-16 rifles, one M79 grenade launcher, and 13 guns, plus 5,000 rounds of ammunition, three red-shirt banners and other material deemed to violate the lese majeste law.
However, Wutthipong denied the government’s allegations, saying in his YouTube radio programme titled “Fight for the Federation” that the raid was arranged by authorities.
The house in Pathum Thani that was raided was once occupied by Wutthipong. Authorities arrested Thirachai Udonwichian, 55, from Samut Prakan, at the premises.
The police operation continued yesterday with searches at container yards in Samut Prakan province.
Soldiers and police sifted through around 3,000 shipping containers as they attempted to find a specific container identified by shipping documents as stored in one of the yards since 2014. However, authorities found no more weapons yesterday.
Maj-General Piyapong Klinphan, spokesman of National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), said the raid on a house formerly occupied by the red-shirt leader should not affect ongoing reconciliation efforts, as it was part of the government’s policy to maintain law and order.
Police said the latest raids stem from intelligence suggesting that Wutthipong and accomplices have amassed weapons to prepare for violence and planned to fight authorities if the Dhammakaya Temple complex was seized.
Meanwhile, Wutthipong has been using social media to criticise the government’s performance and the NCPO’s work while urging Dhammakaya followers to oppose authorities.
Duterte visits Bangkok
By The Nation
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte arrived in Bangkok Monday night and will start his official visit at the invitation of Thai government Tuesday.
Upon his arrival at about 11pm, He was received by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.
Duterte will meet Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and they will have full cabinet meeting in the afternoon. The visiting president will leave Bangkok for Manila on Wednesday.