Absolutely no screen time for kids younger than two years old; for children two years and older, limit screen time to up to two hours max. That has been the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for more than fifteen years now.
However, as times change, the AAP has started loosening its strict guidelines. "In a world where 'screen time' is becoming simply 'time,' our policies must evolve or become obsolete," pediatrician Dr. Ari Brown of the AAP said in a statement, as the previous recommendations were made way before the invention of the iPad.
The AAP conducted a two-day symposium entitled “Growing Up Digital: Media Research Symposium” to evaluate the effects of digital devices on a child’s cognitive, socio-emotional, and developmental growth. Based on up-to-date and more recent studies discussed during the convention, the AAP updated its advice on young kids and media use accordingly.
While new formal recommendations are still not available. Dr. Brown stresses that "digital life begins at a young age, and so must parental guidance."
We have summarized four key takeaways from the new guidelines, which you can read in full here.
1. Play key to a child’s learning. Even in an online environment, parents should continue to engage their kids. Young children learn best via two-way communication, so if your tot reads a book on the iPad, read along with them. Digital devices can help bridge the the learning gap when kids reach age two.
When you play video games with your kids, incorporating social interaction when doing so. If a child makes mistakes using media, use it as a teaching opportunity and handle it with empathy.
2. Prioritize quality content. Quality outweighs quantity. Choose carefully what your child views online rather than just setting a limit to his screen time. More than 80,000 apps are labeled as educational, but even so, parents should try the app and check. You can look to organizations such as Common Sense Media to help curate a list of apps. The more an app requires live interaction (e.g. pushing or swiping), the more educational value it may hold.
3. Set limits and unplug once in a while. Like all activities, screen time should be reasonably limited. Daily unplugged playtime, especially for the very young. Gadgets should be turned off during family mealtimes, and devices charged outside the bedroom. Encourage family time, healthier eating habits, and healthier sleep.
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And since parents are children’s role models, they should observe limits, too, and be models of online etiquette. Remember, attentive parenting requires face time away from screens.
4. It’s okay for teens to be online. In this digital age, online relationships are integral to a teenager's development. Social media can support their identity formation. Don’t be afraid to let them use it, but guide them on proper behavior both online and in real life. Teach (and preach) kindness, and know who their friends are.
It's only realistic release more flexible guidelines, as digital devices are already part of everyday life. Kids see their parenst on their smartphones or wokring on a laptop. However, in a household, there has to be balance of both online and digital expriences. Experts still stress that unplugging these digital devices once in a while and actually engaging your baby without a screen is cruicial to their overall development.
Psychologist Vange Alianan-Bautista, of PsychConsult, Inc. in Quezon City, and school directress Maggie Rose Almoro, of Children’s Formative Learning School in Laguna, suggest these real-life activities. One, play with babies and tots; it's the primary way they learn to make sense of the world they are in. Two, more than visual stimulation, babies and young tots should be doing activities that require them to move and interact as opposed to watching TV which is a one-way medium. Lastly, reading to these young kids is also crucial as well as letting them play with blocks or books alone. Don't forget to incorporate these activites in your tot's daily life.