Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines about screen time for kids. If overused, TV viewing, tablets, cell phones, or any other screens aren’t good for children’s development.
When my kids were little, I limited the time they spent watching TV. I was also careful about what they watched. We had one TV—in the living room. But now, with the proliferation of screens—laptops included—kids are pretty much surrounded. It’s tempting for parents to use screens to distract little ones, in an effort to get other things done.
The recommendations of the AAP are as follows, as excerpted from the parenting blog of the Austin.360 website:
- Children younger than 18 months of age: Avoid the use of any screen media except video chatting (with grandparents, for example).
- Children ages 18 months to 24 months: Introduce high-quality programs or apps, but do it with your children to create a dialogue about what they are seeing, and how it relates to the world around them.
- Children ages two to five-years-old: Limit screen time to one hour a day of high-quality programs that you view with your children.
- Children ages six and older: Place consistent limits on time spent using media, the types of media, and make sure that the use of media does not take the place of sleeping, exercise, and other healthy behaviors.
- Designate media-free times together, such as during dinner or while driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
- Have ongoing conversations about what it means to be a good citizen and to be safe online and offline.
At HealthyChildren.org, there is a guide for creating a family media plan and a media time calculator.
Screen Use and Poverty
Poor children and minority children spend more time in front of screens than higher income children. The reasons for that may be more nuanced than what would readily appear. Still, my concern as a parent was that my children would be passively entertained by others’ creativity, instead of developing their own. Certainly, we watched TV, but we also baked pies and cookies, did art projects, went to the park and the pool, and read—a lot. I didn’t want TV to be our default family activity.
Here’s what the AAP says on its website:
“Problems begin when media use displaces physical activity, hands-on exploration, and face-to-face social interaction in the real world, which is critical to learning. Too much screen time can also harm the amount and quality of sleep.”
Let’s give our kids the best chance to excel academically by monitoring their use of screens.
For more information, visit the AAP website.