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Children's Health Council

Pediatricians Set New Guidelines on Electronic Media Use by Young Children

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November 1, 2016, News

In a marked shift from recommendations first adopted in 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics has lifted its recommendation discouraging all electronic media use in children under the age of 2.

The new recommendations for children’s media use acknowledge that some media exposure can have educational value for children as young as 18 months, but it should be high-quality programming—the AAP specifically referenced “Sesame Street” and children’s programming provided by PBS.

The academy also has recommendations for e-book use. Many of those books come with interactive elements that distract a child and make the book harder for a child to comprehend. Therefore, parents should read e-books along with their children, just as they would with a regular book. 

Recommendations include:

  • For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting.
  • Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age 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.
  • For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
  • For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health. 
  • Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
  • Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.

Read or download the Media and Young Minds abstract here. Read the full article in Education Week online here.

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