The American Academy of Pediatrics recently published its updated recommendations on children’s media use.
Where the organization previously recommended no screen time at all for children under two and that children older than that be limited to no more than two hours of electronic media, it now eases up on the restrictions and acknowledges that digital content is not only ubiquitous but also has benefits as well as dangers.
AAP still advises against screen time for children under 18-24 months, although it does now make an exception for video chats via such services as Skype or FaceTime, which can help nurture relationships with long-distance family members.
It also no longer recommends specific screen-time limits for elementary school-aged children or teenagers, saying that decisions on digital media use for those age groups should depend on the individual child and the type of media. The organization does advise that parents “co-view” with younger children, talk about what they’re watching, and discuss online safety and citizenship.
Not surprisingly, the recommendations also say kids should engage in unplugged playtime and get proper exercise and sleep every day, which includes not having any devices in their room at night and avoiding screen use in the hour before bedtime.
Along with its guidelines, the AAP rolled out a new interactive online tool to help parents craft a household media plan to establish appropriate guidelines for each child. Parents can stick with AAP’s age-specific guidance or add in their own family rules, addressing such items as device-free times and areas, what sort of media to avoid, privacy settings, and more.