The Exchange

Commentary and Observations from
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It’s a Digital World: Screen Time Recommendations for Children

It’s a Digital World: Screen Time Recommendations for Children

We definitely live in a different day and age than when I was a child… As children, my siblings and I just opened the door and went outside to play all day long, when school was not in session and weather permitting. I guess we simply returned home when we had to use the bathroom or got hungry. The only screen in the home was the TV: a huge box that sat in the living room like a piece of furniture!

We are now in such a different time for parents with young children. All kinds of dangers seem to lurk around every corner, so children are constantly supervised, and their play is very organized and scheduled. Additionally, we now have the World Wide Web to compete for children’s attention—with engaging and interactive games, music, and videos—and there are so many screen-devices to choose from! I’ve seen parents who have purchased iPads for their infants to play with in their cribs. You can hardly go to a family-type restaurant without observing a child quietly behaving, while the adults can socialize without being interrupted, and then you notice that the child’s eyes are glued to a phone or tablet screen, watching a video or playing a game. What a great babysitter! These digital screen-devices and can really capture the attention of children.

In response to the widespread use of screens and media devices in children, professional societies and organizations have created recommendations to guide parents on appropriate screen-time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no digital media for toddlers younger than 18-24 months; for toddlers 18-24 months, they suggest watching the media with the child, while engaging him or her by talking about the content; and for preschool children aged 2-5 years, screen-time limits are recommended to be just 1 hour a day.

In my clinical practice, I find it useful to share some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics with parents and caregivers pertaining to digital media. If you are interested, here is the link to it: www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/Pages/Children-and-Media-Tips.aspx.

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Filed under: Miscellaneous, Preventive Medicine, Public Health

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