The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is a valuable and oft-cited resource for guidelines on how to manage screen time for young children. In fact, even in you’re unaware of the AAP’s official guidelines, their most well-known recommendations have made their way into popular discourse: no screen time for children under the age of 2, and a two-hour daily limit for kids age 2 or older.
The problem, though, is that it’s hard to keep up with the speed of technology. The existing guidelines were published in 2011, and drafted before the first-generation iPad even hit the market. Needless to say, those guidelines needed updating to match the proliferation of mobile devices and all the kids apps that come with them.
So the AAP just released brand new, research-based guidelines to help parents manage their kids’ exposure to tablets, phones and computers, not to mention good old TV.
The crux of the updated guidelines is an acceptance that it’s not practical to just tell parents to avoid screen time. Screens are ubiquitous and–let’s face it–quite helpful at times. So the AAP published some thoughts on how to manage screen time, rather than just trying to avoid it.
Here are some key points (as they relate to what we’re trying to achieve with Tales Untold):
- Content matters. Media that takes kids out of their environment (i.e., staring at a screen) “clearly impairs learning.”
- Passively watching videos–even if they’re “educational”–does not aid language development among infants/toddlers.
- Looking at screens before bedtime can adversely affect sleep in a number of ways.
- Making media a shared experience among the whole family empowers children and keeps everyone engaged.
- Parents should model the media behavior they want their kids to adapt. (So put your phone away during bath time.)
Each of these points–and others in the guidelines–seems rather straightforward. But taken together, the larger lesson is that parents need to actively parent their children, even when it comes to handing over the iPhone for a minute so you can take care of that email you need to send. Just be smart about it.
And when you do hand over that iPhone, content options like Tales Untold can keep your child entertained while facilitating language and brain development.