Media, smartphones, tablets and young children

New media recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics can help parents and caregivers make smart media choices for their young child.

A new policy statement titled “Children, Adolescents and the Media”  put out by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that with increased use of techonology and social media by children; parents, caregivers and pediatricians need to develop a clear media plan that helps to monitor and limit the use of screen based technology and media. According to the AAP’s Media and Children page, “children are spending an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones, and other electronic devices.”

While being saavy technology and media users are becoming essential skills in today’s global society, there have been links to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity with excessive media use. Currently, AAP recommends the following guidelines for technology, media and children:

  • Limit screen time to no more than 2 hours per day and be sure that 2 hours is high quality content.
  • Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2 due to the importance of brain development and the need for interaction with caring adults.

Here are some suggestions on how you can limit screen time with your young child:

  • Establish screen-free zones where the use of screened-technology is not allowed. These zones could include children’s bedrooms, the dinner table, play room or other areas where you want to limit the use of technology.
  • Provide children with other types of media such as books, board games, newspapers or magazines.
  • Watch television or movies together and use the time to talk about what they are watching.
  • Consider doing an activity that relates to what you have watched together. PBS Kids Ready to Learn program has some great resources and ideas for activities for using media with children ages 2-8.

Establishing media use guidelines at a young age can help children become good media consumers later in life. For more information about media and children, visit PBS Kids Ready to Learn, PBS Parents and Common Sense Media. Check out the article Limit Children’s Exposure to Electronics for additional tips. For more articles on child development, academic success, parenting and life skill development, visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

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