The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated the guidelines to help parents understand how much time their young children should spend in front of electronic screens.
A lot of parents are still confused about how much time they should allow their children to sit in front of TVs, or looking at iPhones, and other types of digital screens. Some people wait until their kids are 2 years old before they allow them to use such devices or watch TV. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently released an updated guideline regarding how much digital media young children should be exposed to. The guidelines needed an update considering all of the technological advancements and the fact that it hasn’t been updated since 1999.
The released recommendations are different depending on the age group of the child.
For children aged 0-5 years old here are the guidelines that parents are advised to follow:
- Parents are advised to avoid any sort of digital media use for children that are younger than twenty-four months. However, they can video-chat with their kids.
- Parents can consume digital media together with children that are aged 18-24 months.
- Parents who have children that are aged 2-5 should limit digital media consumption to only one hour for day. Parents should also watch the content along with their kids and help them understand what they’re watching.
- Parents should avoid allowing children watch digital media at least an hour before bed.
- Parents should also avoid using screen time as a method to soothe their children. They should figure out other methods because there is a risk that kids might not be able to develop the proper ability to regulate their emotions by themselves.
- Parents are advised to avoid making their kids watch content that is fast-paced, apps that are quite distracting, and media which is quite violent.
- Parents should test the apps before they allow their kids to use them. They should also ask their kids about what they think of the apps. Parents should also monitor the content their kids watch.
- Playtimes, meal times and the bedrooms shouldn’t have any screens in them for both the kids and the parents.
Coming to kids that are aged 5 to 18 years old, according to research such children and teenagers can actually benefit from their use of media. They can learn new information, gain social support, and even get exposed to new ideas. However, negative effects due to media consumption are also present. Children can gain or even lose their sleep. They can also be exposed to unsafe and inaccurate content. Pediatricians and parents play an important role in regulating the amount of media content their children consume. Both parties should work together in order to create a timetable for how much time children should use digital media, and the kind of content they have access to.
The guidelines recommended for children aged 5-18 are:
- Depending on the age, parents should encourage 8-12 hours of daily sleep. They should also urge their kids to experience an hour of physical activity on a daily basis.
- Parents should avoid allowing their children to sleep in bedrooms that have computers, TVs or even smartphones.
- Parents should prevent their kids from watching digital media at least an hour before bedtime.
- Parents should create media-free areas in their homes. Dinner and other family-time activities should be free of digital media.
- Parents should also share their imposed guidelines to caregivers and babysitters to maintain a sense of consistency.
- Parents should also talk to their kids about online bullying, sexting, maintaining privacy, etc. They should encourage their children to be open about any problems they might be facing or any questions they might have regarding the content they watch.
- Parents should create a network of adults that they trust and utilize it in order to stay in touch with kids through various social media platforms.