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The AAP Updates Its Screen Time Guidelines for Kids

posted: 11/09/16
by: Katie Morton
Father daughter watching TV
iStock

When I first became a mom, I was acutely aware of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines about screens and babies. Namely, keep babies away from screens until they turn two. While I never actively sat my son in front of the television to catch up on the latest episode of Bubble Guppies, I did wonder how realistic it was to keep his little baby eyes away from ALL screens until age two. After all, I am a stay-at-home mom who does freelance work and also seeks to occasionally eat food and make a phone call; was an episode of Sesame Street on the iPad before 24 months really going to melt his brain?

I can breathe a sigh of relief now that it seems the AAP is loosening their guidelines; however, don't plop your six month old down for a Godfather marathon just yet. Last week, the AAP put out new guidelines for children and media usage, indicating that around 18 months of age, children can begin to benefit from watching educational programming. Realizing that screens are ubiquitous in our lives, the AAP no longer recommends a total ban for children under two and instead recommends ensuring that children are watching quality educational programming, and that parents are with the child, engaging with them and explaining what they're watching.

While this may not always be a realistic proposition, I tend to feel like moderation is the key to everything in life. The guidelines are just that - guidelines. In today's media-driven culture, it would be virtually impossible to shield your children from all screens, but simply trying to make sure that they're getting quality programming in limited quantities can help make screens a balanced part of your child's life.