Grundy County Memorial Hospital | Live Well | Spring 2019

Eric Neverman, DO, UnityPoint Clinic Summertime changes to school and child care schedules mean your kids may have more time on their hands. Before your child fills the time with video and computer games, learning apps, or more television, consider the effects of screen time on young children. Eric Neverman, DO, pediatri- cian with UnityPoint Clinic–Grundy Center Family Medicine, says the latest research on the impact of excessive screen time supports limits. “Research shows that excessive time spent with video games, TV, computers and handheld devices like phones and tablets contributes to increased childhood body mass index and also negatively affects cognitive, social and emotional development in young children,” Dr. Neverman says. Dr. Neverman advises parents to limit the amount of time each child spends with technology based on their age. Summer screen time limits for your family Babies and toddlers up to 24 months 2 to 5 years 6 to 11 years Dr. Neverman advises outdoor play and exploration to maximize your children’s learning and development. “Make being active a family affair,” he says. “Go on walks or bike rides; play sports together; or engage in fun, active games with your kids.” D r. Neverman agrees with the recommenda- tion of Iowa’s “Healthy Choices Count” pro- gram and the American Academy of Pediatrics, which advise no more than 2 hours of recre- ational (non-school) screen time per day. Dr. Neverman reviews the screen time guidelines with his school-age patients at doctor visits. “Giving children the healthiest start possible is very important, so we emphasize the screen time limits to both parents and kids,” he says. L imit screen time to one hour per day. Well-designed programs, such as Sesame Street, build cognitive skills in preschoolers, but apps and computer-based electronic games for kids are not proven to boost learning and social skills. Interaction and conversation with an adult or older sibling are essential to learn- ing, says Dr. Neverman. “Higher-order thinking skills are best taught through unstructured and social play, with support from a trusted caregiver,” he advises. N o screen time is recommended. “Hands-on exploration and social interaction with a trusted caregiver encourage the development of cognitive, motor and language skills in very young children,” says Dr. Neverman. “Toddlers learn from interaction with people and need an adult to read, to speak and to teach by repetition.” 3