Thanks to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), parents and teachers now have two simple and easy-to-use tools that can assist with developing a family’s media plan and estimating how family members can organize their time so that screen time is balanced with physical activity, reading, face-to-face connections, and homework.
Every school administrator and every PTA group will want to share the information about these digital planning devices in as many ways as possible. The new tools are available at the AAP’s HealthyChildren.org website.
The Academy has also refreshed its screen time recommendations for children of all ages, making needed updates to reflect the changing digital landscape as well as the many media activities in the lives of family members. Whether you agreed or vehemently disagreed with previous AAP screen and media guidelines, the professional society of children’s physicians deserves high praise for its ongoing efforts to address a media and digital landscape that dramatically affects the health and wellness of young people.
The organization’s previous admonition, “No screens under two,” has now caught up a bit with the times. While it is still not recommended that babies sit in front of baby-sitter screens (no matter how educational), the new guidelines describe how tools like FaceTime and Skype provide benefits by connecting babies and toddlers with extended family members and especially grandparents. The report also notes that using devices for co-viewing activities — with parent and young child doing something together — can be beneficial as long as there is conversation that encourages interaction about what they are doing together. Children and Media: Tips for Parents is available at the website, and it correlates closely with my blog post, 10 Digital Wellness Posts to Remember.
Additional recommendations for students of other ages were also updated, though there is some concern about the one-hour per day for preschoolers (see the article in Slate noted below).
Far more details are available in two policy reports. Media and Young Minds focuses on babies, toddlers, and young children, and Media Use in School-Aged Children and Adolescents focuses on older children. Both are available in PDF versions. Readers who seek more detailed information about the science that backs up the AAP recommendations will want to check out Children, Adolescents and Digital Media, which will be published in an upcoming issue o the journal Pediatrics.
A National Public Radio Shots Blog article, No Snapchat In The Bedroom? An Online Tool To Manage Kids’ Media Use, provides additional information about the new recommendations. Also, early childhood researcher Lisa Guernsey shared her views about the new policies in a Slate article, The Beginning of the End of Screen Time Screen Wars. Guernsey is the author of the book Tap, Click, Read: Growing Readers in a Time of Screens.