Doctors' Group Signals Potential New Guidance on 'Screen Time'
In 2011 the American Academy of Pediatrics reaffirmed a recommendation that parents discourage television viewing in children under 2. In 2013, it followed that guideline with a further recommendation that children over 2 should have only one to two hours of "entertainment screen time" per day.
But is that going to change?
On Oct. 1, the group released a paper called "Beyond 'Turn it Off': How to Advise Families on Media Use." The AAP guidelines noted above remain in place, but the paper said that the physicians' group is preparing new recommendations that will take into account the technological shifts that have occurred over just the past few years.
The AAP's 2011 recommendation, for example, was drafted before the release of the first iPad and the subsequent explosion in apps aimed at young children, said the report.
"In a world where 'screen time' is becoming simply 'time,' our policies must evolve or become obsolete. The public needs to know that the Academy's advice is science-driven, not based merely on the precautionary principle," the paper said.
In May, the AAP convened an symposium, "Growing Up Digital," which focused on the wide variety of digital media currently in use, and how it fits in with youth development. A summary of the key issues raised during the event offers hints about what may be coming in future AAP recommendations. Experts who attended the event said that parents need to be aware of what activities may be displaced by media use, model appropriate "digital etiquette," and create tech-free zones.
Symposium speakers also said that gaming can be a powerful learning tool, that families should engage in using digital media together, and that online interactions help teens build community and creativity.