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Your Healthy Family: Smart phone addiction is a big problem for kids

Two big investors in Apple are now urging the company to take action to curb the growing smart phone addiction among children.  They've sent a letter calling for Apple to develop new tools to help parents control and limit smart phone use, and study the impact of over-use on mental health.

This comes on the heels of the World Health Organization saying they will classify video gaming addiction as a mental disorder, and it all ties into screen time.  Past studies show 50-percent of teens say they are addicted to their devices.

Michael Rich is a pediatrician with the Harvard Medical School.  “In many many ways, we're seeing increases in anxiety, increases in depression. Certainly increases in sleep deprivation because they're staying up late at night texting each other.”

Dr. Robert Sayers with Kids Are Great Pediatrics, has been seeing these effects on kids here in Colorado Springs first hand.  “Kids and teens are more isolated and all these kids are connecting online on their phones, but they're not making any kind of personal connection with friends and having any contact.”

Dr. Sayers says the first step to making sure your kids don’t fall into this trap is to follow some basic guidelines.  “What's recommended is no screen time before age 2, after that one hour a day.  One of the things I see a lot, is autistic kids that's one of their obsessions, screen time on a tablet or smart phone.  They will fight you, to get that time. and so the parents can mentally wear down and give in.”

Dr. Sayers also encourages parents to be proactive, and don’t leave it up to the kids to make the decision to put down the device and get active.  “Encourage the kids to play and even if you have to set up times of playing with other people other kids.  In many neighborhoods there aren't other kids to play with, so you have to join groups.  Get into clubs and rec leagues, gymnastics are a great activity and so is swimming.”

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