If you’re extra careful about your baby’s media consumption, you probably adhere to screen time for kids rules set out by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 1999: no screens for kids under 2 years old.
However, a new set of guidelines from the AAP lifts that ban, as NPR reports. Though they still recommend limiting screen time for small children, the guidelines now say that young children can benefit from screen time, provided that they are with their parents.
Here’s the gist of the new guidelines, according to the age of your child:
For children younger than 18 months
Avoid use of screens, but video chat is ok. Evidence has shown that infants and toddlers are receptive to video chat and can learn from these interactions, provided that a parent is present to help them understand what’s going on.
For children 18-24 months old
Parents should choose high-quality programming, and use media with their child. Too much media use is harmful for your child, so limit their screen time.
For children 2-5 years old
Limit screen use to 1 hour/day of high-quality programs (similar to Sesame Street). Again, parents should be present to help them understand what’s on screen and how they can apply it to the world.
For children 6+ years old
Make sure that your children get at least 1 hour of physical activity a day and 8-12 hours of sleep, depending on their age. Set limits on screen time per day, and continue monitoring the kind of media they consume.
General screen time for kids rules
- Avoid fast-paced programs, apps with lots of distracting content, and any violent content.
- No screens during meals and 1 hour before bedtime.
- When not in use, turn off televisions and other devices. Don’t just let them run in the background.
- Try not to use screen media as your go-to to calm your child. You can use them every now and then to keep them occupied (for example, at the barber or during airplane flights), but depending on screens to calm down your child can make it harder for them to learn how to regulate their own emotions.
- Monitor the kind of media your child is consuming, including apps. Test apps before your child uses them and play together. Make it interactive by asking your child what they think about the media they’re consuming and what they’re learning.
To read the AAP’s released guidelines, click here for their recommendations for babies and young children; and here for their recommendations for school-aged children and adolescents.