Thursday, February 05, 2009
How much screen time is healthy?
By Anthony Policastro, M.D

One of the current recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics is related to screen time. Screen time can be in the form of television. It can be in the form of video games. It can be in the form of computers. We know several things about too much screen time. That is especially true for television. We know that in very young children too much time is associated with an increased likelihood of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). We know that too much time is associated with eating and obesity. We know that too much time is associated with an increased tendency toward violence. We know that too much time gives the perception that drinking and sex are permissible. The current recommendations are that children under age 2 have no television time. For those children over age 2, screen time should be limited to two hours per day. That is two hours total. It does not mean two hours of video games plus two hours of TV plus two hours of computer time. Limitations in time spent on these activities must begin early in life. A child who is not used to spending that much time on them will expect to have that limitation in the future. For example when a child gets a video game controller for the first time, the two hour limit needs to be put in place then and there. It is also the time to let them know that they have a choice of two hours of that or two hours of television but not both. Most DVD movies are close to two hours in length. That means that children should see no more than one DVD per day. Computers are good for searches and contacting others by E-mail. However, surfing the net for hours and hours each and every day is not appropriate. I once observed a keyboarding class in a local high school. I sat in the back of the room as an observer. When class began most of the students began surfing the Internet and paying no attention to the teachers. Their point and click skills were great. However, their keyboarding skills were terrible. I see some children for learning problems who spend a great deal of time on video games. When it comes time to get their homework done, they will not do it. They play video games instead. This solution to this problem is relatively simple. They should earn their video game time by doing homework. No homework means no video game time. The same is true for other situations. For those children who want to spend all of their time in front a some kind of screen (computer, TV or video game), there needs to be a "minutes for performance" system set up. Activities that the child is expected to do (like homework or chores) should earn screen time minutes. Then when an activity is done today, it earns screen time for tomorrow. No activities today means no screen time tomorrow. The list should be adjusted to ensure that the child does not earn more than two hours of screen time per day. I sometimes will hear parents tell me that they cannot control screen time. They indicate that the child becomes angry and aggressive if not allowed to play their games or use the computer. In those situations, it is clear that the parents have bigger problems than just screen time. Counseling is in order when a parent feels that they cannot control screen time because the child is out of control. Actually, the child maybe out of control because they watched too much violence on TV. Thus more screen time will only make matters worse. The time to start teaching children about these things is when they are young. Three and four-year-olds should not have DVD's serve as a baby sitter while the parents are busy. Video games should not be a way to keep older children quiet. Parents need to understand that too much screen time is bad. They need to take action accordingly. I know that doing this is not always easy. However, there are not too many parts of being a parent that are easy.

Dr. Kim joins Nanticoke Nanticoke Memorial Hospital announces that Dr. Joseph Kim, specializing in family medicine, has joined the Nanticoke Physician Network, located at 116 E. Front St., Laurel. Dr. Kim is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and is currently accepting new patients, ages newborn and older. Dr. Kim graduated from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Philadelphia, Pa. He completed his family practice residency at St. Francis Hospital in Wilmington and joined the Nanticoke Medical Staff in 2006. Dr. Kim and his family have been residing in the community for the past several years. To reach Dr. Kim's office, call 302-875-2127.

Cancer Networking Support Group The Wellness Community of Delaware offers a "General Cancer Networking" support group the third Monday of each month from 4:30- 6:30 p.m. held at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Cancer Care Center second-floor library, Seaford. Professionally led cancer support programs offer hope, education, and emotional support for adults with cancer and their loved ones who want to fight for recovery and the quality of their lives. Learn how to feel less isolated and more in control. All programs offered through The Wellness Community of Delaware are free of charge to people affected by cancer. For further information, or to register, call 645-9150.

Cholesterol screenings Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will be offering cholesterol screenings on February 11 & 14 from 7:00 - 10:00 am at the Seaford Golf & Country Club, located at 1001 W. Locust Street, Seaford. The Lipid Profile test requires a 12-hour fasting and reads the HDL, LDL, and triglyceride blood levels. Cost for the Lipid Profile is $15. There is no need to pre-register. Results will be mailed within 3 weeks along with information to evaluate the results and follow-up if needed. In addition to cholesterol screenings, free blood pressure checks will be offered. There will be health information and interactive displays. For additional information, call 629-6611 extension 4536.

Diabetes educational program Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, Seaford, will be holding a four-week diabetes educational program beginning February 4 and continuing February 11, 18 and 25 from 5pm - 7pm to be held at the hospital. Registration for this class is required. The cost of the four-week program may be reimbursable by insurance. This four-week program includes weekly education sessions and individualized meal planning for diabetes self-management. Our goal is to give you the self-management skills to control your diabetes. Family members/significant others are welcome to attend the weekly sessions.
Program Schedule
  • Week 1 - What is diabetes: physiology and self-care skills review
  • Week 2 - Meal Planning, eating out, reading labels
  • Week 3 - Self blood glucose monitoring and management, sick day rules, traveling
  • Week 4 - Medications used to manage diabetes, stress management: coping with diabetes and lifestyle changes, summary and course evaluations, goal setting
  • To register and to obtain additional information regarding the course, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Diabetes Education department at 302-629-6611, extension 2446.

    Library offers potty training help The Seaford District Library and the Sussex Parents as Teachers group is offering a free potty training program for parents and caregivers of young children. Families will learn how to know if their child is ready, what they should expect and steps to help their child through the process of potty training. The program will be held Friday, Feb. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at the Seaford District Library in the community meeting room. For more information, call 856-5239 or Cris Henderson at 875-2781.

    Hospice staff earn certification The National Board for Certification of Hospice & Palliative Nurses validates expertise and commitment to quality in hospice and palliative care by testing individuals within each specialty area. Certification, which is awarded in three categories, indicates a mastery of that body of knowledge and the responsibilities associated with that position. Delaware Hospice recognizes the following staff members who earned certification from the National Board in 2008: Certified Hospice and Palliative Nursing Assistant (CHPNA): Kristan Brokenbrough, Ashanti Crisp, Erika Cruz, Michelle Davis, April Handy, Lisa Hartley, Brenda Heinrichs, Teresa Jones, Tiffany Mumford, Sandra Nelson, Samara Price, Kimberly Rayne, Sharon Souza, Natasha Taylor, Tina Tingle Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (CHPN): Betsy Bruemmer, RN, OCN, clinical preceptor; Sharon Chranowski, RN; Theresa Gibeck, LPN; Christina Knauer, RN; Donna Pritchett, RN; Rolonda Sutton, LPN; Marlene Tice, RN; Judi Tulak, RN, CHPN, associate director of Home Care. Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Administrator (CHPCA): Mary Theresa McEntee, RN, CHPN, associate director of Referrals

    CHEER plans healthy living expo On Tuesday, April 21 the CHEER Community Center in Georgetown will host a free Healthy Living Expo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Healthy Living Expo, which is open to the public, has room for more vendors to set up a table at expo. The fee is $75 or $50 if you offer a health screening. For registration or more information, call 302-854-9500.

    Look Good, Feel Better Women undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer can now receive free professional help to cosmetically disguise the appearance-related side effects of their treatments. Look Good, Feel Better, a program developed by the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the National Cosmetology Association, trains volunteer cosmetologists to help women with cancer, conceal loss of hair, skin problems, and other side effects that can result from cancer therapy. The program is geared towards helping people look their best even as they are undergoing cancer treatment. Although almost all of the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment are temporary, they can be very distressing. The next Look Good, Feel Better program will be hosted by the Cancer Care Center at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital on Monday, February 9 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Cancer Care Center's 2nd floor conference room. The program is Free to all patients in active cancer treatment. Registration is required, and space is limited. To register for the Look Good, Feel Better program, please contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Cancer Care Center at 629-6611, extension 2588.