Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Screen-Time for Your Little Ones: Doctors Weigh In

On October 19, 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics released Media and Young Minds, a policy statement on young children’s media use. This policy statement addresses the influence of media on the health and development of children from birth to age 5. The first five years of a child’s life are critically important for brain development, building secure relationships, and establishing health behaviors. The policy statement outlines recommendations that support these important elements of a child’s development, including:

· Avoid digital media use in children younger than 18 – 24 months, except for video chatting.

· If you choose to introduce digital media to children 18 – 24 months of age, choose high-quality programming (like Sesame Street) and view it together. Children need an adult to help them learn at this age, so they shouldn’t view media alone.

· For children ages 2-5, limit screen use to one hour per day (high-quality programming only), and view it with your children to help them understand what they’re seeing and how they can apply it to the world around them.

· Avoid fast-paced programs (more difficult for young children to understand), apps with lots of distracting content, and anything violent.

· Monitor children’s media content. Test apps before downloading and play them together.

· Keep mealtimes, bedrooms, and parent-child playtimes screen-free for children and parents.

· Stop screen time one hour before bedtime, and make sure devices are not left in the bedroom.

· Turn off televisions and devices when not in use.

The full policy statement reviews the literature on media, potential educational benefits, and related health and developmental concerns in young children, and explains the reasoning behind the guidelines. Find it here: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2016/10/19/peds.2016-2591.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends developing a Family Media Use Plan and provides an online tool for doing so at www.healthychildren.org/MediaUsePlan.

Guest post by Allison C.

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