Many parents think their kids watch too much TV, and now that the internet and television are becoming more alike, many parents want to limit their kids’ computer time too. And the more time adolescent girls spend in front of Facebook, the greater change they have of developing a negative body image and various eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia and exaggerated dieting. The same effect has been found with regard to exposure to music and fashion on the internet, and to harmful programs on TV.

Researcher Michael Gilbert notes a steady increase over the years in parental reports of their children spending less time in person with friends since gaining access to the Internet. A 2010 survey that an increasing percentage of parents say Internet access at home is reducing their children’s in-person time with friends. Three in five American households restrict television use as a punishment, a figure that’s hardly budged over the past decade. Restricting children’s internet use as a form of punishment has steadily increased over the years and is now a practice in 57% of the nation’s homes with children under 18. However, parents are still more comfortable about the amount of time their children spend on the internet versus television, with 69% polled in a recent survey saying it was just about right (versus 57% for television). Only 28% thought their children spent too much time on the Internet, against 41% who thought television time was excessive.

Researcher Jeffrey Cole notes that most researchers think that the interactive demands of digital technologies and social networking threaten to put inordinate stress on the modern family. But they may change their minds: He also notes that, while families have traditionally turned technological advances, such as the telephone and television, to their advantage.

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