Parenting in the digital age can be challenging and confusing. This week the American Academy of Pediatrics–informed by dozens of studies on screen time and its effect on the emotional and physical health of children–released new guidelines for parents. Here is some of their advice:
- Children under the age of 2 should avoid all digital media use except for video chatting via apps like Skype and Facetime.
- If you must introduce digital media to toddlers between the ages of 18 and 24 months, choose high-quality programming and sit with your child. Solo viewing should be avoided.
- Children ages 2 to 5 years should have no more than one hour of screen use a day. Be sure to select high-quality programming and watch it with your children.
- Keep bedrooms, mealtimes and parent-child playtime free of screens. (Parents, that goes for you too: Set your phone on “Do not disturb.”)
- If you have children between the ages of 5 and 18, place consistent limits on their hours per day of media use, as well as the types of media they use.
- Discourage the use of entertainment media while doing homework.
- Children of all ages should avoid exposure to devices and screens for one hour before bedtime.
- Keep smartphones, TVs and other devices out of the bedroom.
- Communicate the family’s media guidelines to grandparents, babysitters and other caregivers so screen rules are followed consistently.
- Have an ongoing conversation with older children about online citizenship and safety. This includes treating people with respect online; saying no to cyberbullying and sexting; and avoiding communications that can compromise personal privacy and safety.
To help your family develop a plan that is right for you, visit www.HealthyChildren.org/MediaUseplan.
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics and Los Angeles Times