How Much Screen Time for Infants and Toddlers? The New Guidelines Are In
Is it okay for your infant or toddler to be exposed to digital media? Here’s a report about the latest guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics on how to integrate screen time in a healthy way for families.
The old guideline from the American Academy of Pediatrics was that kids shouldn't have any screen time before age 2―no computers, smart phones, television or video.
This was primarily based on studies that indicated that children younger than 2 years of age need hands-on exploration and social interaction with parents or other caregivers in order to develop their cognitive, language, motor, and social-emotional skills. As it turns out, infants and toddlers cannot learn from traditional digital media as well as they can with human interaction because of their immature symbolic, memory, and attentional skills that make transferring digital-based knowledge into a 3-dimensional learning experience difficult to achieve.
However, as digital media changes and becomes more integrated into our lives—such as with using Skype and Facetime―so do the views on what is really good and not so good for very young children. Here’s an NBC News video about the new guideline changes made by health experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Digital Devices OK Even for Toddlers, Doctors Say
Summary of Recommendations for Parents on Children and Media Use
• For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they're seeing.
• For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
• For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
• Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
• Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.
How to Set Up Your Family Media Use Plan
So the message behind the new guideline changes is not so much of, “No screen exposure—ever—if your child is under two,” but more of how we can integrate screen time in a healthy way for families. To accomplish this, here is a video from the American Academy of Pediatrics on how to take advantage of using their Family Media Use Plan to use digital media to bring family members closer to one another.
For more about screen time for the young, here is an informative article on why too much screen time could make your child nearsighted.
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