The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a new policy statement on media and young children that reflects new understandings about electronic media, its place in our world, and how it affects child development.
Also, the AAP is introducing an innovative online tool to help parents create a “Family Media Plan.”
It may also be helpful to read this article by lead author Jenny Radesky, MD:
We doctors used to urge parents to discourage media use under age two, and to limit kids’ use to two hours a day, at most. But we have now arrived at a more nuanced understanding of the various ways in which children use digital tools. Through review of the updated science, interviews and focus groups with parents from diverse backgrounds, and our own clinical experience, we are now recommending that parents use media as a teaching tool – a way to connect and create – instead of just to consume.
Some key recommendations from the AAP report:
- Avoid digital media use (except video-chatting) in children younger than 18 to 24 months.
- For children ages 18 to 24 months of age, if you want to introduce digital media, choose high-quality programming and use media together with your child. Avoid solo media use in this age group.
- Do not feel pressured to introduce technology early; interfaces are so intuitive that children will figure them out quickly once they start using them at home or in school.
- For children 2 to 5 years of age, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programming, coview with your children, help children understand what they are seeing, and help them apply what they learn to the world around them.
- Avoid fast-paced programs (young children do not understand them as well), apps with lots of distracting content, and any violent content.
- Turn off televisions and other devices when not in use.
- Avoid using media as the only way to calm your child. Although there are intermittent times (eg, medical procedures, airplane flights) when media is useful as a soothing strategy, there is concern that using media as strategy to calm could lead to problems with limit setting or the inability of children to develop their own emotion regulation. Ask your pediatrician for help if needed.
- Monitor children’s media content and what apps are used or downloaded. Test apps before the child uses them, play together, and ask the child what he or she thinks about the app.
- Keep bedrooms, mealtimes, and parent–child playtimes screen free for children and parents. Parents can set a “do not disturb” option on their phones during these times.
- No screens 1 hour before bedtime, and remove devices from bedrooms before bed.
- Work with developmental psychologists and educators to create design interfaces that are appropriate to child developmental abilities, that are not distracting, and that promote shared parent–child media use and application of skills to the real world. Cease making apps for children younger than 18 months until evidence of benefit is demonstrated.
- Formally and scientifically evaluate products before making educational claims.
- Make high-quality products accessible and affordable to low-income families and in multiple languages.
- Eliminate advertising and unhealthy messages on apps. Children at this age cannot differentiate between advertisements and factual information, and therefore, advertising to them is unethical.
- Help parents to set limits by stopping auto-advance of videos as the default setting. Develop systems embedded in devices that can help parents monitor and limit media use.