How children should use media: advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics

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How children should use media

Media use can strongly influence children’s life. Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has announced new policy recommendations and resources to help families maintain a healthy media diet.

To support these recommendations, the AAP is publishing an interactive, online tool so families can create a personalized Family Media Use Plan.

The AAP recommends that parents and caregivers develop a family media plan that takes into account the health, education and entertainment needs of each child as well as the whole family.

In particular, families need proactively think about their children’s media use and talk with children about it, because too much media use can mean that children don’t have enough time during the day to play, study, talk, or sleep.

The policy statement is called “Media and Young Minds”, which focuses on infants, toddlers and pre-school children. It emphasizes that parents should be their child’s ‘media mentor’, and teach them how to use it as a tool to create, connect and learn.

A second policy statement, “Media Use in School-Aged Children and Adolescents,” offers recommendations for children ages 5 to 18.

In addition, a technical report, “Children, Adolescents and Digital Media,” provides a review of the scientific literature to support both policies.

Important recommendations from the AAP:

  • 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.

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News source: American Academy of Pediatrics.
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