Many newborns are exposed to screen time, whether it’s a phone, a tablet, a television, very frequently during their first few years of life and this is actually a cause for concern. As screens have become more and more ubiquitous, you know, moving from not just the TV in the living room but everybody walks around with a high definition screen in their pocket on their smartphone, it’s almost unavoidable but there’s really good reasons to avoid screentime in small infants and young toddlers.
Children who are overexposed to screentime are at risk of several developmental complications. There can be speech delays, it can be problems with developing social skills, it can be problems with short-term memory. There are also some concerns that it can cause some reading and attention problems later in childhood as well.
So the American Academy of Pediatrics has recently come out with new guidelines on the amount of screentime that’s appropriate for infants and small toddlers. Many parents are surprised when I tell them that the recommendation for infants under eighteen months old is actually zero hours of screen time a day and this is because of the possible negative developmental impact of screen time on developing brains during that age.
Between 18 and 24 months old it’s still recommended to not have any screen time but there’s one exception which can be things like video conferencing or Skyping or FaceTime where, you know, they can have some communication time with a family member or [inaudible 00:01:47] that may not be present but it would be meaningful for the child to interact with.
Above two years old it’s recommended to have limited screen time. The best use of screentime is not as a pacifier to help your kid be quiet or to take their attention away from situations that are going on, so it’s recommended to be more of an educational nature of a high-quality show. It’s also recommended to watch together as a family and to discuss what you see in brief so that the child understands what they’re looking at.
It’s important to avoid content that, you know, even if it’s not violent or graphic, it’s a lot of content that’s very emotionally charged and can certainly trigger negative behaviors in kids. Even in fairly innocent appearing content that adults may view, you know, children may view it quite differently, so it’s important to monitor that carefully and see what your child’s reaction to that material is and to discuss it together.