The times are a-changing. Screen times, that is. Due to the prevalence of iPads, smart phones, video game systems, and computers, the American Academy of Pediatrics often needs to update their screen time “rules” or recommendations. Previously, the AAP discouraged the use of screens completely for kids under the age of two, despite the fact that almost every stroller or grocery store cart contains a toddler playing on some type of device. Now the group has amended their guidelines again with some notable differences in that sub-two age group as well as others. Read on for the most up-to-date recommendations as well as a new online tool that takes the guesswork out of how much screentime your child should have.
For kids under the age of 18 months, only video-chatting is encouraged. That sound you just heard was Grandma letting out a sigh of relief from three states over. For little ones between the ages of 18 months and 24 months, the reigns are loosened up slightly with the AAP recommending carefully chosen and educational digital media programs like Sesame Street or PBS — as long as a parent or caregiver is watching with them and acting as a sort of interactive guide for what is taking place on screen (i.e. pointing out different characters or singing along with Elmo). For kids ages 2-5, a maximum of one hour of screen time is recommended, again with a parent or other caregiver watching the program and discussing it with the child. For children six and older, the guidelines are less stringent and specific, with the stipulation that digital media shouldn’t be interfering with sleep, face-to-face social interactions, exercise, and family bonding time. In order to answer questions and help parents understand appropriate screen usage for their kids and to help them regulate screen time, the AAP helped create an easy-to-personalize family media plan that incorporates the screen recommendations for specific ages and assists families in organizing and enforcing digital media rules.
Learn more about technology and kids in our previous coverage here.