Practice Guidelines

Use of Media by School-Aged Children and Adolescents: A Policy Statement from the AAP


Am Fam Physician. 2017 Jul 1;96(1):56-57.

Author disclosure: No relevant financial affiliations.

Key Points for Practice

• Physicians should work with families and school employees to aid in awareness regarding the benefits and harms of media use.

• Physicians should be aware of options for identifying sexting, cyberbullying, problematic Internet use, and Internet gaming disorder.

• Physical activity and sleep guidelines should be followed and encouraged by physicians with the aid of a family media use plan.

From the AFP Editors

Children and adolescents are exposed to a variety of broadcast (e.g., television, movies) and interactive (e.g., social media, video games) media. Those eight years or older watch an average of more than two hours of television each day, including via streaming (e.g., Netflix) and social media (e.g., YouTube). Overall, the use of media has continued to increase in adolescents, in part because of increased use of mobile devices.

Children and adolescents can benefit from media use, including by being exposed to new ideas and data. Other potential benefits include promoting community participation, enabling partnerships with other students for homework or other projects, facilitating communication with long-distance family and friends, and improving access to support systems. However, there are also harms associated with media use, including health-related concerns such as an increased risk of obesity and sleep disturbances. Overuse of online media and video games can lead to problematic Internet use and Internet gaming disorder, with symptoms such as fixation on the activity, waning interest in offline relationships, failed efforts at reducing use, and withdrawal. Evidence has also indicated that there is a negative effect on learning when media is used while engaging in academic tasks.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released a policy statement on the use of media in children and adolescents five to 18 years of age.


Physicians should work with families and school employees to aid in awareness regarding the benefits

Author disclosure: No relevant financial affiliations.

Coverage of guidelines from other organizations does not imply endorsement by AFP or the AAFP.

This series is coordinated by Sumi Sexton, MD, Associate Deputy Editor.

A collection of Practice Guidelines published in AFP is available at



Copyright © 2017 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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Jun 15, 2018

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