Doctors Suggest New Screen Time Limits for Kids

American Academy of Pediatrics announced this week that parents should limit the amount of TV children are watching.

Researchers are concerned over the amount of time spent using digital media, also known as screen time. In San Francisco, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discussed new health recommendations for 2017. Among their health recommendations including a new initiative to limit the amount of screen time. Previously, two hours a day for children under the age of two was the recommended limit. Now, researchers argue that a “blanket statement” of two hours is no longer a good idea.

Dr. Yolanda Reid Chassiakos, lead author of the “Children and Adolescents and Digital Media Technical Report” argued that, “It doesn’t make sense to make a blanket statement [of two hours] of screen time anymore.” She added, “For some children, two hours may be too much.”

The AAP suggests that infants aged 18 months and younger should not be given any screen time. Chassiakos argues that eliminating screen time for infants can have a huge impact on brain development and will help foster healthy relationships between children and their parents. “The noise and activity of a screen are distracting for a child,” she explained.

Chassiakos also argued that the distractions caused by screen time eliminate the personal interactions between a mother and her children, which could affect brain development social skills including making eye-contact with others. Children could later develop behavioral issues, Chassiakos argued. “It’s much better to talk to a child or read from a book.”

The AAP asserts kids, ages 2 to 5 years old, should be limited to only one hour per day. But the type of screen time should include interacting with others such as Facetime. Chassiakos argues that having screen time conversations with others or including children in video conversations can promote healthy development in kids. It can also serve as an educational tool by asking kids to reiterate what was said in the video conversation.

However, parents can determine their own limits and restrictions for kids over the age of 6 but, more attention should be spent on monitoring the types of content children are watching.

Overall, the academy argues that screen time should never replace social or healthy activities such as sleep, exercise or social interactions. In a statement Dr. Jenny Radesky explained, “What’s most important is that parents be their child’s ‘media mentor.’ That means teaching them how to use it as a tool to create, connect and learn.”


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