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Oct 19, 2011
05:46 AM

Docs Urge Parents To Limit Screen Time for Kids Younger than Age 2

Docs Urge Parents To Limit Screen Time for Kids Younger than Age 2

Despite recommendations to the contrary, it's well known that most parents of kids younger than age 2 let them watch at least some TV, smart phone or other screen entertainment. In a nod to this reality, the nation's pediatricians have revised their policy discouraging screen time for infants and toddlers.

A policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), published in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics, says parents should carefully limit the time infants and toddlers younger than age 2 spend in front of screens, whether they are televisions, computers, so-called educational games or smart phones. The policy states that screen time offers no educational benefit to children younger than 2. It leaves less time for more valuable activities, such as interacting with people or even playing alone, unplugged.

Even leaving the TV on in the background can detract from play that stimulate learning, and can distract parents from talking to and interacting with young children, the AAP says.

The AAP's new policy is less strict than its original, 1999 statement that opposed any video time at all for children younger than age 2.  The new policy says if parents choose to let young children have screen time, they should set strict limits on it and should avoid placing a TV in a child's bedroom.

"We felt it was time to revisit this issue because video screens are everywhere now, and the message is much more relevant today that it was a decade ago,” says the policy's lead author, pediatrician Ari Brown,  MD.  According to one study, about 90 percent of parents of kids younger than age 2 let them watch some type of screen media. Nearly one-third of kids age 3 have a TV in their bedroom.

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