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New AAP Guide for Children's Screen Time

By Sandy Schroeder

As parents, we try to cover all of the bases. But one area that may become elusive is screen time for our kids. As we move in and out of the car, and run through the day, screen time may or may not be tracked. Keeping an eye on the total usage can be tricky.

In a recent national conference, the American Academy of Pediatrics looked at their previous two-hour screen limit recommendation for kids over age 2 and offered new guidelines.

Screen Time Guidelines

In the new guidelines, the AAP is talking about screen time using digital media as entertainment. They are not including time for school projects, such as online homework.

AAP suggests children, ages 2 to 5 years old, be limited to screen time of one hour daily.  For kids who are 6 and older, AAP suggests parents create their own screen time restrictions and monitor what is actually happening.

The group also pointed out how vulnerable babies are to screens.  The group emphasized infants 18 months and younger should not be exposed to any digital media.

Time to Rethink

This might be a good time for all us to evaluate our screen time. Many of us use screens in our work, and it is all too easy to carry that habit home. If we think about our time in the evening, or on the weekends, we may realize there is a lot of ongoing screen time that plays through unchecked.  Our culture encourages the habit, and our kids naturally watch what we do.

Consider how your family spends leisure time, and then consider how it might be reshaped.

Rethinking digital time, could start with a daily tracking to see what is really happening. You could keep a journal for a day for yourself, and do another one for your kids. If the TV goes on in the morning, and screens pop out too, the daily total could be impressive. Deciding what is useful, and what is overload, could be important.

If your daily tally turns out to be surprisingly heavy, you might want to start making changes to unplug. You could start gradually, looking for opportunities to branch out.

Weekends could be used for family outings including wilderness walks, museums, book shops or sports events. Start with the things that fit your family and try a few.

Digital time may still show up a lot, but monitoring and reshaping could make a difference.


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