Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
The new guidelines on screen time offered by the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) take as a premise that media use is “dominant” in kids’ lives. A new report issued by Common Sense Media provides detailed survey data which certainly supports this claim. Vicky Rideout, who directed the research, suggests that we are seeing an extraordinary growth in media use in general over the past two years – driven in particular by mobile devices. Consider some of these key findings as reported by Common Sense Media:
• In 2013, 75% of kids have access to mobile devices at home, up from 52%.
• Smartphones are still the most common device (63%, up from 41%), but tablet ownership is 5 times higher (8% to 40%).
• The number of kids who’ve used mobile devices has nearly doubled (38% to 72%); and average daily use of mobile devices has tripled, from 5 to 15 minutes a day.
• As many little babies and one-year-olds have used smartphones or tablets today as all kids under eight had done just two years ago (38%).
So what can we learn from these data – and what can parents do to make sure they are providing good guidance for their kids? Caroline Knorr, Parenting Editor at Common Sense Media, shared these insights and suggestions:
The report shows that families love mobile devices. There has been a five-fold increase in ownership of tablet devices since 2011. That means choosing high-quality, age-appropriate apps is more important than ever. Don’t treat app downloads as an impulse purchase – do your research to find the best ones that will really engage your kids in learning, thinking, and other skills. Common Sense Media offers reviews and ratings for parents – and while there are tons of apps in the app store, only a handful earn Common Sense Media’s four and five star ratings.Here’s a link to our Preschool Prep app reccommended list:
Kids really love mobile devices. Almost twice as many children have used mobile media compared to two years ago. That means it’s easier for parents to enjoy media WITH their kids — anywhere they are — instead of plopping them down in front of a stationary computer and not knowing what they’re doing. Take advantage of mobile device’s flexibility in allowing positive media experiences to happen with your kids where ever you happen to be. But along with that there’s a responsibility to make sure that kids aren’t OVER-using screens (and that you aren’t relying on devices as a babysitter, say in the car or in restaurants). Remember to balance kids’ days with a variety of experiences that promote healthy development. Allow them to develop the skills to self-soothe, be patient, and not have to be entertained 24/7. Here’s a link to Learn to Read apps:
TV is still king and families love to “time-shift.” Kids love TV – in fact, it is the dominant delivery system for educational content. Take advantage of “time-shifting” functions like your DVR, On Demand, and even streaming shows. Dig through the vast amount of offerings to find entertaining, educational shows – including all of the older shows you may have enjoyed as a kid and are offered by a lot of these services. These allow parents to make quality choices mindfully – rather than just letting one TV show flow into the next – and expose kids to a wider variety of content. They also allow you to reduce kids’ exposure to commercials. Here’s a link to classic streaming TV shows: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/tv-lists/classic-streaming-tv-shows
Overall, parents should really think hard about these data, and develop a systematic approach to monitoring and structuring their kids’ screen time. Resources like Common Sense Media can offer a variety of tools to support that.
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Monday, October 28th, 2013
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued new guidelines on kids’ screen time – some of which will become incorporated in the well-child visit with a pediatrician. Here’s a breakdown of the key things to know:
Why Issue New Guidelines Now? It’s been over a decade since the AAP issued formal guidelines – so the current “2-hour” limit on screen time is quite dated. As noted in the AAP report, media use is a “dominant” force in kids lives. School-age kids may be spending 8 or more hours looking at a screen – teens might spend close to 11 hours a day. Some of this is productive time, some of it should be avoided. Thus, new guidelines are offered to help parents regulate screen time and give their kids a platform for making good choices to use screen time wisely.
What Are The Two Key Issues For Parents? Pediatricians will be counseled to ask parents two questions during well visits:
- How much recreational screen time does your child or teenager consume daily?
- Is there a television set or Internet-connected device in the child’s bedroom?
Let’s start with “recreational screen time.” It’s acknowledged that kids now use screen time for a variety of purposes – including educational ones. So rather than have an arbitrary number of total “screen time” hours as a guideline, the purpose here is to regulate and limit recreational time. Here the less than 2 hour rule will apply, which is more than reasonable. Kids need to spend time doing other things – like moving their bodies. Trying to cap recreational screen time is realistic and sensible.
The issue of screen time in a kid’s bedroom follows the same principle. Clearly some kids are doing homework in their room and will be using a computer. The point here is to develop some consistent and good practices – especially establishing a rule for turning off the electronics well before bedtime. Using technology is not a good way for kids to unwind and prepare for sleep – and we know that many kids do not get enough sleep. So while having screens in bedrooms – especially with mobile devices – may be common (though not necessarily endorsed), using them right up to bedtime should not be a common practice.
What About Babies? The AAP still does not love the idea of babies staring at screens. Nearly any professional who studies babies will tell you that they need to look at faces, hear voices, and interact with people a lot. This is not going to happen if parents are preoccupied with their mobile device while baby plays with a tablet. So the bottom line is to discourage (not ban) screen time for babies – specifically kids under 2 years of age. It may be added as a corollary that interactive time with baby is more than highly encouraged.
How Do You Make All This Happen? Pediatricians will suggest making a family home use plan for all media, keeping these recommendations in mind. This is a very solid idea, given how much time many of us spend with technology, especially mobile devices that become omnipresent. It will be important to come up with a realistic and enforceable plan for your family and your kids that considers the when and where and how of screen time – including a plan for becoming familiar with and monitoring the content of what your kids are watching. Having some type of plan – and these sensible suggestions to follow – can help parents proactively manage screen time at a time when it is, indeed, “dominant” in our society.
What career will your kiddo have? Take our quiz and find out! Plus, check out our 10 favorite apps for preschoolers.
Baby With Laptop via Shutterstock.com
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Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
If you have a baby younger than 1 year of age, I hope you have had a chance to review the new guidelines to promote safe sleeping offered by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) (click here to see the GoodyBlog post on this if you haven’t seen these yet). In addition to providing the latest thinking aimed at keeping your baby healthy and safe, I think these kinds of recommendations serve another important function: they remind us that there are principles to follow that override the often polarizing debates about sleep methods.
In particular, I’d like to emphasize how the AAP is using a platform that combines clinical observations along with research to generate their guidelines. So when they suggest that babies under 1 should NOT sleep in a bed with a parent, but SHOULD sleep in the same room as a parent, they have only 1 thing in mind – the safety of your baby. And notice that their suggestion sort of splits the difference between bed-sharing and cry-it-out: your baby should be close by but not by your side.
Now of course this recommendation applies to the infancy period. As your baby gets older you can start to morph your child’s sleep routine into whatever works for all of you. But I suggest that you remember to consult resources such as those offered by the AAP website to help you make sure that your decisions are executed safely throughout your child’s life.
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