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Screen Time for Kids

New Guidelines Distinguish Between Tech for Learning vs. Fun

(page 1 of 2)

In an age where smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices have become commonplace, it can be difficult for parents to limit kids’
exposure to screens.

For years the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that parents limit screen time for children ages 2 and older to less than two hours a day and encouraged no screen time at all for children under age 2.

The AAP recently announced it will adjust its recommendations to keep up with the evolving technological landscape. The official guidelines will differentiate recreational screen time from educational screen time.   

Positive vs. negative time

Educational screen time engages a user’s intellect and may require him to create something new, while recreational use entertains, rather than teaches.

Common Sense Media, one of the leading children’s media advocacy groups, divides screen time into four different categories:

  • passive consumption (watching TV)
  • interactive consumption (playing video games)
  • communication (texting)
  • content creation  (creating art, music or text)

“If kids are using high-quality, age-appropriate media, their behavior is positive and their screen time activities are balanced with plenty
of healthy screen-free activities, there’s no need for worry,” says Michelle Hernandez, communications coordinator for Common Sense.
She says parents should recognize that tablets, iPhones and other technology can be used for positive purposes.

The AAP suggests incorporating two-way communication into media use — via live interactions with a parent, for example — as a good way to enhance a child’s media experience.  

Parents can use technology “to assist with homework and help kids learn through family discussions of what kids are watching, creating a positive media experience,” says Dr. Lee Pachter, chief of general pediatrics for St. Christopher’s Hospital in Philadelphia and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

See page 2 for cautions about the effect of excessive tech time on behavior and health.

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