Posts Tagged ‘ babies and technology ’

New Guidelines On Screen Time For Kids

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.

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Kids And Mobile Devices: Half Of Kids Under 8 Use Them

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Last Friday my post focused on what I called the new challenge for setting media use guidelines for parents: “transportable technology.” I mentioned how I didn’t have data to share on how many kids use some form of it. Now there is some. 

I just read an article in the New York Times that presents an overview of the results of a survey study of 1,384 parents conducted by Common Sense Media, a non-profit group based in San Francisco. According to the report by Tamar Lewin:

The study found that fully half of all kids under 8 had access to a mobile device like a smart phone, a video iPod, or an iPad or other tablet.

James Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, offered the following quote in the article:

It’s the beginning of an important shift, as parents increasingly are handing their iPhones to their 1 1/2-year-old kid as a shut-up toy. And parents who check their e-mail three times on the way to the bus stop are constantly modeling that behavior, so it’s only natural the kids want to use mobile devices too. 

Of course, many parents – especially those with babies and toddlers – will consider mobile devices to be potentially educational. But the fact remains that while parents continue to receive guidance on limiting screen time for their kids, the reality is that most parents are increasing their own screen time because of mobile devices. And so are their kids (especially since the majority of kids also watch TV/DVDs and increasing numbers use desktop computers).

This is why I suggest that transportable technology is the new challenge for parenting babies and toddlers – simply put, it is rapidly changing the landscape of monitoring screen time (for both parent and child). Thoughts?

Image by Stuart Miles courtesy of

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