Last week the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) annual conference occurred. This meeting is a convergence of Pediatricians around our nation to cover topics that span the range of childhood development. In the past, the AAP had fairly rigid guidelines on the use of media for kids. It was recommended that children under the age of 2 avoid all screen time and those over age 2 limit to no more than 2 hours a day. This month, the AAP has revised the recommendations to reflect newer research and national trends.
We’ll briefly summarize the recommendations for all kids by age:
Under 24 months:
Young children need adult interaction to foster language and cognitive development. Though 2 years olds (in research studies) can pick out words on a screen, they really need face to face interaction with an adult to grasp the understanding of words. Avoid screens in the age group unless to do real time video chat (such as FaceTime or Skype visits with grandparents).
Preschool ages 3-5 years:
Limit screen time to 1 hour per day of high quality programming (such as Sesame Street). Parents should engage with their kids if using electronic applications (like e-readers). Avoid fast paced programs ask children can’t understand them.
All ages (including tweens and teens):
Monitor online and media content. Watch programs with your kids to ensure it’s age appropriate.
Turn off devices (TV, tablets, computers) when not in use.
Try not to use media to sooth unless special circumstances (for example, you’re at an appointment and it’s a limited amount of time).
Have a media free zone in the home. Keep bedrooms, meal times, and interactive/play time with your kids media free.
Turn off all screens at a minimum of 1 hour before going to bed.