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AAP ‘Screen Time’ Guidelines

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We’ve talked about how we want to make your kids’ ‘screen time’ matter, but we at Minilab understand that the issue is still a big worry for parents. As these new technologies have entered ours and our children’s lives, advisors are having to adapt their policies to keep up.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) totally discouraged screen time for children under 2 and advised a limit of 2 hours to those over 2. These guidelines were drafted before the release of the first iPad and the burst of apps aimed at these very young children.

Now, more than 30% of US children play with a mobile device for the first time under the age of 2 and later 75% of 13-17 years olds have their own smartphone. The technology is here and children are drawn to them so the AAP needed to update their policies.

The Academy invited a selection of delegates including neuroscience and media researchers, educators, paediatricians and representatives from key partner organisations in order to consolidate research and come up with new, thoughtful, practical advice for parents.

They came up with a number of key messages for parents, primarily that family and parental interaction with media facilitates social interactions and learning and that parents should play a video game or watch television with their children, but also:

· Media is just another environment that children explore like anything else, just virtually and with that comes both negative and positive effects.

· Two-way communication is the best way for children to learn and ‘talk time’ remains critical to language development. If the media can encourage this e.g. chatting to family by video, the better the educational benefit of the media.

· The quality of the content is more important than the time spent or the platform it is experienced on so that should be prioritised above ‘screen time’

· Spend time researching- 80,000 apps are categorised as ‘educational’ but sites including the Educational App Store can help to discover age-appropriate apps that are more interactive than one that just requires a child to push and swipe.

· Playtime is still important and and digital media should be consumed between ‘unplugged’ free play and within limits.

The AAP, paediatricians and educators have it within their role to translate research into advice for parents. Their formal guidelines are due next year, but these key messages work as a basis until then. It is clear that there is still a little way to go before the stigma attached to these new medias is totally lost, but by creating engaging, educational apps, such as Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System, for children, these add a huge benefit to the their ‘screen time’.

Read the full AAP report.

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