Changes to Pediatrician-Recommended Guidelines for Screen Time

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Earlier this week NPR aired a story about babies, toddlers, and screen time. Most of us with kids have heard from our pediatricians that they discourage screen time before 2 years old. But, on Monday of this week, the American  Academy of Pediatrics updated their guidelines on screen time for children and adolescents.

According to NPR, these are the latest thoughts on babies, toddlers, and screen time:

  1. Pediatricians discourage passive screen time for children 2 and under. If you can avoid it, try to entertain your little one with something besides Elmo when s/he simply sits there and watches passively (if you don’t count singing, of course).
  2. There’s a key difference between passive screen time and active screen time. Do you like to do Google hangouts with grandma and grandpa, or far away relatives? That interaction with a human, or other interactive applications are not the same as passively watching videos and the like.
  3. The research on touch-screen apps is unclear. Apps and games labeled “educational” may not necessarily help your child learn. In short, this is still a new frontier, and both the medical and education experts agree that there remains much to learn about the real effects of technology (passive and active) on our littlest ones.
  4. Aim for a balanced approach — for you and your baby. Since we don’t know the true effects, but we do know that sometimes technology just works for us, find a balanced approach! To the best of your ability, engage with your child as s/he explores technology, and (to the best of your ability, we’re all human) try to put your phone or laptop away so that your child has your full attention.
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According to Common Sense Media, 40% of households own tablets, and the percent of children with some access “smart” mobile device at home is 75%. While TV remains the most popular kind of screen time for kids, the jump in the role of digital is sizeble and growing. If your household is anything like ours, there comes a point where kids start requesting, er, demanding these devices. It can be easiest to give in and put on whatever it is your child wants to watch. And honestly, for a parent who has work to do, or needs a break, who can blame you? But, given these new guidelines, we would simply suggest taking more time to select which apps you have on your tablet or phone. Are they interactive or passive? Can you engage with your child as s/he learns? Is there another activity that might engage your child and still give you a moment’s rest?

At Zoobean this month, we are starting to curate educational apps in our Library. We’ll use this library to make recommendations to our subscribers about apps that will work for their families. We send these recommendations along with books handpicked just for them, with the hope that parents are doing what they do best…following intuition and striking the right balance between solo screen time, and togetherness with and without technology. Happy reading and swiping!