Well-child visits in the video age: Pediatricians and the American Academy of Pediatrics' guidelines for children's media use

Douglas A. Gentile, Charles Oberg, Nancy E. Sherwood, Mary Story, David A. Walsh, Marjorie Hogan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Objectives. The goal of this study was to evaluate awareness of, agreement with, and implementation of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) media use guidelines among pediatricians. Pediatricians' beliefs about several media effects were also measured, as was their own media use. Pediatricians were also asked about how often they make media recommendations as part of anticipatory guidance during well-child visits, as well as the perceived efficacy of and barriers to making such recommendations. Design. A cross-sectional survey mailed to all members of the Minnesota chapter of the AAP. Participants. A total of 365 pediatricians completed the survey. Measures. The 58-item survey assessed familiarity with, agreement with, and implementation of each of 3 AAP recommendations, to limit children's media time, to discourage television (TV) viewing among children <2 years of age, and to encourage alternative entertainment for children. Pediatricians were also asked about the perceived effectiveness of and barriers to guideline implementation. In addition, pediatricians were asked to report their own TV viewing habits and their opinions about how much media affect children's health and behavior. Results. Most pediatricians were familiar with and also agreed with the 3 AAP recommendations. Their agreement may stem from the fact that pediatricians almost universally believe that children's media use negatively affects children in many different areas, including children's aggressive behavior, eating habits, physical activity levels, risk for obesity, high-risk behaviors, and school performance. Pediatricians were most likely to have encouraged alternative entertainment and were least likely to have discouraged TV viewing for children <2 years of age. The majority of pediatricians provided all 3 recommendations to parents at least sometimes. Most pediatricians reported that their recommendations were at least a little effective when they did make them. The most frequent barrier pediatricians reported facing was a lack of parental motivation or support for the recommendations, with approximately one-third of pediatricians also citing a lack of time and a sense of futility in affecting patients' media habits as barriers. Finally, pediatricians who watched the greatest amounts of TV were significantly more likely than those who watched less to think that the AAP recommendation to limit children's total media time to no more than 1 to 2 hours per day is unrealistic, whereas those who watched less were more likely to agree with the recommendation. Conclusions. Results suggest that the efforts of the AAP in reaching pediatricians have been largely successful, with the majority of pediatricians in Minnesota being aware of and agreeing with the 3 major recommendations suggested by the AAP policy statement on children, adolescents, and television. However, implementation of the recommendations could be improved, especially because pediatricians usually think that the recommendations are at least a little effective when made. Strategies for overcoming barriers to making recommendations need to be addressed, including the sense of futility in affecting media use that some pediatricians may feel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1235-1241
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2004


  • Media effects
  • Medical training
  • Recommendations
  • Television


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