Thinking back to your own checkups at your pediatrician’s office, you may remember the provider asking you or your parents about your exercise, nutrition, or other health promotion activities. Now, you may notice your children’s checkups include questions about screen time, social media, and electronic use….and for good reasons! Previous guidelines suggested 2 hours or less per day of screen time for kids, including television, tablets, phones, and computers. In this world of rapidly advancing technology, this is becoming more and more difficult to achieve. Even with elementary kids, many classrooms have at least this much computer use just during the school day.
The new policy released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) breaks it down for different age-groups. Kids 18 months and younger should have no media use besides video chatting such as FaceTime or Skype (great way to keep in touch with long distance family/friends!) So much for thinking I was doing my kids a favor with those Baby Einstein videos years ago, oops!
Until 5 years, children should have 1 hour or less per day of high-quality programs/apps. As you develop routines with your kids, it’s beneficial to create a media use plan that is in line with your family’s rules/goals. A great customizable tool can be found at www.HealthyChildren.org/MediaUsePlan. Remember, optimal brain development needs unstructured, hands-on, and social play to build cognitive, language, and social/emotional skills.
Important AAP recommendations to keep in mind:
- avoid using media as the main way to calm a child
- don’t feel pressured to introduce media early
- make co-viewing the norm
- ensure that your children take part in other healthy, active, and social activities
- keep parent/child interaction times, meal times, and bedrooms free of media
- stop screen time at least 1 hr before bed and have the kids “turn in” their devices before bed so that they are not temped to sneak them later J
- avoid distracting, violent, or fast-paced content
Ali Griffin, ARNP
Weiss Pediatric Care