With technology infiltrating every aspect of modern life, many parents wonder how much screen time is safe for their kids. While avoiding televisions, tablets, computers and smartphones until they enter school won’t harm young children, research indicates that they can still benefit from the right amount of screen time.
The former rule set by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) was no screens for those under 2 years of age, but it has updated these suggestions. For babies under 18 months, no screen time is recommended with one exception: video chat. Chatting with friends and family through FaceTime or another service is fine, although in-person interactions are still best.
For babies 18 to 24 months, there is a small amount of evidence that educational screen time with a parent is okay. To make this screen time helpful, the AAP suggests repeating the words and phrasing on the screen. Parents should use the screen like a picture book and never let their children under 2 have unsupervised screen time. Unsupervised time is linked with language delays in young children.
Kids from 2 to 5 can have one hour of screen time, but they should only watch truly educational programming. Sesame Workshop and PBS are two great sources for programming that meet educational guidelines. Parents should watch with their children and talk during the program to help them understand what they’re seeing.
When their child reaches the age of 6, parents should balance educational screen time with other activities, such as exercise, in-person interactions and sleep. To learn more age-appropriate activities for children, parents can talk with one of our qualified pediatricians at 24/7 Pediatric Care Centers.