RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Media – both mainstream and digital/social – is ubiquitous in today’s society. It’s often difficult for parents to find the right balance of media vs. family time vs. other activities.
This past week, the American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines to help parents strike the perfect balance. The new guidelines focus not on how much media is consumed, but on where, how and when children access media.
- What are some of the important highlights of these new guidelines?
First of all, the guidelines address the use of media in early development as a critical point. The guidelines note that parents should not feel pressured to introduce technology to their child early, and reassure that interfaces are so intuitive that their child will figure them out quickly once they do start using them.
For children aged 2-5 years, the statement recommends that media should be limited to one hour a day and should involve a high-quality program or activity that parents and kids can view and engage with together.
The authors also advise that while digital media may be a useful tool to soothe children while on a plane or during a medical procedure, media should not be used as the primary method of calming down a child. Using devices as a regular soothing strategy limits a child’s ability to regulate their emotions.
Media use has taken over the American family. Families, therefore, have to be realistic about healthy ways to use media from an early age while setting time constraints.
For children aged 18-36 months, it is crucial that adults interact with their child during media use and help their child understand what they see on screen and how it relates to the world around them.
For school-aged children and adolescents, the AAP recommend that digital media use be balanced with other healthy behaviors. The guidelines state that problems begin to arise when media use displaces physical activity, hands-on exploration, and face-to-face social interaction in the real world, which are all critical to learning.
- What are the risks of over use of media during early childhood?
While media use alone has not been identified as the leading cause of any health problems in the United States, experts say that excessive media use can contribute to many health risks, including obesity, lack of sleep, school problems, aggression, and behavioral issues.
Early childhood is a time of rapid brain development where children need time allocated to play, sleep, learn to handle emotions, and build relationships. While research suggests that excessive media use can distract children from these activities that play an essential part in their development
- How can you develop a family media plan for your home?
The AAP has developed an online tool for assessing and improving your media use as a family. It allows each family to develop a customized guideline for media use in their household.
By creating a personalized family media use plan, you can be aware of when you are using media to achieve your purpose. This requires parents and users to think about what they want those purposes to be. The tool below will help you to think about media and create goals and rules that are in line with your family’s values.