It wasn’t that long ago when “screen time” meant time spent watching television – parents were advised to set limits on how much time a child spent sitting in front of a TV and not to put a TV in a child’s bedroom.
These days it’s far more complicated. TV is still a player, but “screen time” far more often means a portable device – laptop, tablet, and, especially, a smart phone. With competing advice from websites, magazines, books, pediatricians, family members, friends, social media, and other sources, it’s no wonder parents continue to ask these questions: How much media should I let my young child access, how should we use media, and what media can be beneficial for my child, or at least not detrimental to her development?
The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement in October 2016 that lifted their previous ban on screen time for children under 2 and provided media use guidelines.
Media Use Guidelines for Young Children
For children younger than 2:
- Media use should be very limited and only when an adult is standing by to co-view, talk, and teach. For example, video-chatting with family along with parents.
For children 18 to 24 months, if you want to introduce digital media:
- Choose high-quality programming.
- Use media together with your child.
- Avoid solo media use.
For children 2 to 5 years of age:
- Limit screen use to no more than 1 hour per day.
- Find other activities for your children to do that are healthy for their bodies and minds.
- Choose media that is interactive, non-violent, educational, and prosocial.
- Co-view or co-play with your children.
For more tips and guidance about media, reading e-books, and developing a Family Media Use plan, click here.