New Screen Time Guidelines

Screen time is a topic we hear about everywhere, even in our pediatrician’s office. I know that when I go to the doctor with my child, when I’m asked to fill out a form about how he is eating, sleeping and speaking, there is also a question about how many hours a day he is in front of a screen. Media and screens are now a factor in children’s development and how they interact with the world around them.

In the past, the American Academy of Pediatrics rule for parents was to set a limit of no more than 2 hours of “screen time” for kids over the age of 2. It was a simple, easy to remember rule: 2 hours and done.

Recently, those guidelines have been changed.

“It doesn’t make sense to make a blanket statement [of two hours] of screen time anymore,” said Dr. Yolanda Reid Chassiakos, lead author of the “Children and Adolescents and Digital Media Technical Report” and assistant professor at UCLA. “For some children, two hours may be too much.”

According to CNN.com, “For the new guidelines, the AAP identifies screen time as time spent using digital media for entertainment purposes. Other uses of media, such as online homework, don’t count as screen time.”

The academy now breaks down their screen time limits by age groups:

Infants 18 months and younger: No screen time
Chassiakos said, “The noise and activity of a screen are distracting for a child,” she said. “Even if the baby isn’t directly looking at the screen — for example, if a mother is nursing her child on the couch while watching TV — the baby can be overstimulated by the lights and sounds, which may cause distress and sleep problems.”

Children 2 to 5 years: One hour per day
The AAP recommends that “parents prioritize creative, unplugged playtime for infants and toddlers,” according to its press release. Children this age can be introduced to screens, but only for one hour a day. The type of media they are exposed to is critical: only high-quality programs, such as “Sesame Street” and other PBS shows should be viewed.

Children 6 years and older: Limit digital media
For this age group, the academy suggests that the parents be in charge of setting limits on digital media for kids and teens six and older. Chassiakos says, “For healthy kids, an average day includes “school, homework time, at least one hour of physical activity, social contact and sleep – which is anywhere from eight to 12 hours for kids. Whatever’s left over can be screen time.”

* Project B3 wants you to keep in mind, the AAP is considering “screen time” here as only time used for entertainment purposes- not time spent in front of a computer for homework or at school, which can be quite a lot. In our opinion, there is also a large jump between 5 and 6 years-old here. We know that every parent is different and every child is different, but it seems like 6 is still a young child and that there still be an actual time limit in place for a few more years. That’s simply our opinion though.

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