WellesleyWeston Magazine

FALL 2017

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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her sons, who has a hard time shutting off a game, could lose himself for hours in the glow of the screen. She's not alone, and obviously it's not a duty exclusive to parents in Wellesley and Weston. A nationally representative survey in late 2016 of nearly 1,800 parents by the nonprofit organization Common Sense Media found that 34 percent of respondents were concerned about the effect that screen time has on their children's sleeping patterns. Parents also have to worry about the many other issues their kids will face when using electronic devices: cyberbullying, social shaming, as well as exposure to violent and sexual material. Setting the Right Guidelines on a Child-by-Child Basis "The question just about every parent asks me is: 'How much time should my child spend in front of a screen?'" said Dr. Gene Beresin, the executive director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital. "I say it depends on a number of things: the age of the child, their developmental level, and the child's temperament." The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) last year issued new guidelines on video screen time. AAP previously recommended that children two years old and younger should not be exposed to screen time on any device, but last year revised that to less than an hour per day. The previous guideline was based on the age-old worry that parents would use devices as babysitters, much as previous generations had done with television, Dr. Beresin said. But the new recommendation reflects that parents use devices and apps to teach their children the alphabet, numbers, and other concepts, he said. "I honestly don't think it's about the amount of time," he said. "If you're interacting with your kid, and you're playful with one another, and the child is learning things, it could be two hours. It doesn't matter." The same holds true for older children, Dr. Beresin said. As long as electronic games and apps foster interpersonal connectedness and an opportunity to learn — much as Sesame Street effectively engaged chil- dren of another generation and taught them literacy, math, and foreign languages — then it's not so much about setting time limits but instead about monitoring what they're doing on the devices, he said. J L O M B A R D / D R E A M S T I M E . C O M 154 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | f a l l 2 0 1 7 family matters "monitoring what they're doing"

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