Pediatricians issue recommendations on screen time for kids

kid and ipad
Photo: Dinic/iStockphoto

Elk Grove Village, IL – Citing an expansive social landscape in which millions of young children and adolescents are “growing up immersed in digital media,” including streamed television and movies, video games, and virtual reality, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a set of recommendations for parents to promote healthy screen-time use by being their child’s “media mentor.”

Excessive time spent on computers and other electronic devices may interfere with a child’s physical activity, hands-on exploration and face-to-face interactions, AAP states. Screen-time recommendations include:

Children up to 24 months old:

  • Limit screen media use to video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months old who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.

Children ages 2 to 5:

  • Limit screen use to one hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should watch with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing and apply it to the world around them.

Children age 6 and older:

  • Limit the type of media used and the time spent viewing it. Make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to good health.
  • Designate media-free times, such as mealtime or when driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
  • Continuously communicate about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.

In addition, the academy has produced a free, interactive online toolkit called the Family Media Use Plan. It includes a media time calculator that shows the optimal amount of screen time for children based on age, and accounts for activities such as sleep, chores, homework, family time and physical activity. The plan is available in English and Spanish.

AAP also published two policy statements and a review of scientific literature on the subject in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics. The first policy statement focuses on infants, toddlers and preschool children, and the second on screen-time recommendations for children ages 5 to 18.

“Families should proactively think about their children’s media use and talk with children about it, because too much media use can mean that children don’t have enough time during the day to play, study, talk, or sleep,” Dr. Jenny Radesky, lead author of the policy statement on infant, toddlers and preschool children, said in a press release.

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)