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AAP Recommends Keeping Kids Under the Age of 2 as “Screen-Free” as Possible

Michael Brian

Before turning on the TV for your fussy 7-month old while you’re trying to get dinner on the table, you may want to give him a toy instead to keep occupied, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics. According to a recent press release, the AAP is releasing a study more firmly limiting screen time to kids under the age of 2 as much as possible.  

Although this particular screen time recommendation has been in place for some time, recent research more conclusively shows that young babies whose brains are developing are much better off with human interaction and “live” presentations than televised ones. According to the research, the “educational” programs geared towards kids are designed for children who understand the content and context of the video, an understanding that’s typically not developed until after the age of 2. The AAP also warns that TV viewing at bedtime can cause poor sleeping habits and heavy TV watching for young kids can even cause delays in language development. 

A recent survey found that 90 percent of parents allow their children who are under the age of 2 to watch or engage with some form of electronic media, watching one to two hours a day on average. The survey also found that almost one third of parents allow their children to have a TV in their bedroom – by age 3! These are the parents who likely believe that educational TV is “very important for healthy development” and are twice as likely to have the TV on constantly as background. 

That seems to be one end of the extreme where kids are exposed to TV at all waking hours. The other end of the extreme is being completely vigilant about limiting exposure. It’s not totally realistic to assume that you’ll never have your toddler in front of a TV or have some kind of exposure to it, especially if you have older children in the house, but the report recommends that parents do the following when it comes to TV and babies: 

  • Set media limits for their children before age 2, bearing in mind that the AAP discourages media use for this age group. Have a strategy for managing electronic media if they choose to engage their children with it; 
  • Instead of screens, opt for supervised independent play for infants and young children during times that a parent cannot sit down and actively engage in play with the child. For example, have the child play with nesting cups on the floor nearby while a parent prepares dinner;
  • Avoid placing a television set in the child’s bedroom; and
  • Recognize that their own media use can have a negative effect on children. 

This is all clearly common sense advice, but will this latest recommendation change how much TV your kids watch? If you have little ones under the age of 2 in your house, how much TV are they exposed to on a daily basis?

 

 

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