Back in July the American Academy Of Pediatrics released a policy statement about how to deal with violent media, beyond telling your kids to close their eyes. But, since Daniel Tiger has yet to join a fight club (or at least doesn’t talk about it) you may not have had much use for those. Today your favorite academy released not one, but 2 additional policy statements, along with technical report of scientific evidence supporting those recommendations. How much screen time should they be getting? What kind of shows should they be watching? What is Snapchat, really?
The overarching theme of all the documents is that parents should work with their pediatricians to come up with a personalized Family Media Use Plan. The new statements titled “Media And Young Minds,” which focuses on infants, toddlers, and preschool children, and “Media Use in School-Aged Children and Adolescents,” which focuses on kids ages 5 to 18, should give you and your doctor plenty to talk about while you’re kid plays on the tablet you’re not sure they should have.
Among their recommendations (which makes for great bedtime reading), children under 18 months should avoid the use of screen time other than video-chatting — because grandma and grandpa will be damned if they figured out FaceTime for nothing. For kids 2- to 5-years-old, it’s best to limit screen to one hour per day of high quality programs, which Common Sense Media would be more than happy to help you with. They also recommend that parents co-view programs with this age group in order to help youngsters understand what they are seeing, and make sure they’re not sneaking any Walking Dead episodes. You’re enough of a zombie for them.
As kids get older, the AAP advises parents to set time limits at their own discretion, but to make sure that their media does not take the place of physical activity, sleep, and other healthy behaviors, like giving you the remote back. Likewise, parents should designate media-free times (like dinner), media-free zones (like bedrooms). Can you still scroll through Instagram on the toilet? It’s complicated. And, as your kid reaches those terrifying teenage years, keep an open dialogue about online safety and how to treat people with kindness on and offline. The bottom line is that if you talk about it, and keep talking about it, they won’t have any time to turn into media monsters. They’ll just be regular, teenage ones.