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Kids need free time, not screen time, this summer

Many parents think they need to keep their children busy all summer. But experts say the urge to overschedule isn't good for kids.

Dr. Corinn Cross, a pediatrician in Los Angeles and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, says it's important to let children enjoy some downtime after the end of the busy, activity-packed school year.

"A lot of kids get up way too early, they're going to bed way too late. They're very tired. They're basically scheduled from the minute they wake up until almost the minute they go to sleep," she told CBS News.

But Cross stresses that downtime does not mean screen time. She says kids need a variety of activities that combine fun, learning, and physical exercise; they should not just spend hours on end with their computers, phones or video games.

"You say, OK, let's do one week of this camp and maybe you can have one week of downtime, and maybe, you know, three days a week we're going to do a little bit of some sort of school, academic stuff, and the other time you can have for, you know, Facebooking or Instagramming with your friends."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children and teens spend no more than two hours per day looking at entertainment media on their computers, smartphones, tablets or TVs. Research has linked more screen time to obesity, higher blood pressure and cholesterol, sleep loss and academic problems.

Los Angeles mom Joyce Wong Kup says she's trying to strike the right balance with her kids this summer. "We're just doing a few camps here and there and then the rest of the time we have activities," she said. She said she tries to pay attention to their interests when making summer plans.

To help get the summer off to a good start, Cross recommends talking to your child and laying some ground rules on how to spend school-free days.

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