The updated recommendations for screen time for kids


Until now AAP’s recommendations had been quite specific: no more than 2 hours of screen time for children. When it came to kids under 2, this time was not advised at all. For some parents these numbers were too general and vague, and they couldn’t help but ask: Is ANY screen time counted in the same way? Is tech really harmful for little kids? After more than 15 years American Academy of Pediatrics has taken these concerns into acount and decided to change these restrictive guidelines.

In the new raport from media research symposium APP recognizes the unavoidable presence of tech in kids’ lives.

Following the previous guidelines might have been difficult, if not impossible in the increasingly digitalized world. These days living screen-free is really tough as we stumble upon technology almost everywhere you go. Indeed, the AAP brings up two studies that show common presence of tech in kids’ lives. The 2013 Zero To Eight study commissioned by Common Sense Media has presented the following findings:  38 percent of infants younger than age two use mobile devices like smartphones. 2015 Pew Research Study reports that 73 percent of 13-17-year-olds have smartphones and 24 percent admit using their phones almost constantly.

APP motivates their change with the following statement In a world where ‘screen time’ is becoming simply ‘time’ our policies must evolve or become obsolete. The public needs to know that the Academy’s advice is science-driven, not based merely on the precautionary principle.”

It has been agreed that optimized media can be beneficial for young children, but parent’s presence is essential to make this screen time ”quality time”. 


Overreaching themes

1. The AAP is a trusted translator – the participants of the symposium recognized APP as a trusted translator of research on digital media  for kids

2. Parents should model responsible media use and establish family media plans that support balance, boundaries, and communication. – APP puts an emphasis on parents’ presence in kids’ digital life, especially when it comes to setting limits 

3. Content matters – safe technology is not only about strict screen time, but the quality: the content that a child consumes is extremely important as well. Some digital media has a potential of decreasing social interactions (e.g. background TV), while other ones promote them (e.g. Skype)

4. Diversity matters – tech should embrace the diversity of cultures. AAP notes that screen media has a potential of teaching kids about the world

5. Growing up digital presents opportunities and risks –  parents should be aware of how they can seize the benefits of tech while knowing how to avoid the dangers

6. Gaming, gamification, and m-Health can be powerful learning tools. – on the contrary to some believes, games and gamification can be extremely effective in the learning process of children

7. Screen media can adversely affect sleep – one of the dangers of tech overuse  (especially for kids) is poor sleep, which leads to obesity and poor academic performance

8. Screen media has the potential for overuse – excessive media use can lead to addiction. A child addicted to media demonstrates classic addiction behaviors (like withdrawing from the community)

A formally updated, more extended set of guidelines will probably come out in 2016. 


Thanks for reading and see you next week!

Magdalena | Appetite For Education

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