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New screen time guidelines for your kids

By Lynn Hutley,

In keeping with the digital age, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has revised its recommendations for children’s media viewing. Perhaps the biggest change is for the under-two crowd.

The new recommendation states that children younger than 18 months should avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Previously, the recommendation was no screen time prior to the age of two.

The Academy recommends that 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.

“Even though they [AAP] are saying that it is okay for young children to have screen time, it is important that it is intentional screen time,” says Dr. Aaron Traeger, an Advocate Children’s Medical Group pediatrician with Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. “Parents or other caregivers should be interacting with the children and guiding them about the content, not using the TV or computer as a baby sitter.”

For older children, the new recommendations focus on setting limits including media-free zones like the dinner table or bedroom.

“Families should 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,” said Jenny Radesky, MD, FAAP, lead author of the policy statement, in a release.

In addition to the new recommendations, the AAP has introduced a Family Media Use Plan tool to assist families in setting guidelines and keeping children’s media experiences positive.

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