The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued new guidance for families on children’s media use. An article this month in the academy’s newsmagazine AAP News advises thinking beyond screen time to the quality of children’s interactions with technology—quality that can be significantly bolstered when caregivers participate in children’s interactions with games, tablets and the like.
The article by four pediatricians emphasizes the importance of communication and engagement between caregivers and their children before, during and after media use and offers pointers to help caregivers with this.
Parents will likely welcome such guidance, as findings from a recent ASHA survey indicate that large percentages of parents report technology use by very young children—and more more than half of parents are concerned that such technology use could affect their young children’s ability to communicate.
The AAP article indicates that children’s screen use should not be passive. “Neuroscience research shows that very young children learn best via two-way communication,” the authors write. “Talk time between caregiver and child is critical for language development. Passive video presentations do not lead to language learning in infants and young toddlers.”
The guidance is based on AAP’s first “Growing Up Digital: Media Research Symposium,” held last May and focused on early learning, game-based learning, social/emotional and developmental concerns. The Today Show recently highlighted some of the recommendations in the article, which include tracking what children are doing on screens and talking to them about their favorite games and programs.
The authors also recommend setting limits on screen time and encouraging unplugged time, but they back off from the strict no-screen-time-for-tots recommendation issued in 2011 AAP guidelines. The article also advises that parents curtail their own media time to set good examples and states that the quality of content matters a great deal. Formal recommendations that update the 2011 guidelines are forthcoming from AAP, according to the authors.