The Children’s Media Foundation

AAP Media Plan

The American Academy of Paediatrics has revised its recommendations on screen time for children (21.10.16).

It suggests parents prioritize creative, unplugged playtime for infants and toddlers. Some media can have educational value for children starting at around 18 months of age, but it's critically important that this be high-quality programming, such as the content offered by Sesame Workshop and PBS. Parents of young children should watch media with their child, to help children understand what they are seeing.

For school-aged children and adolescents, the idea is to balance media use with other healthy behaviors.

The AAP offers parents an Online Family Media Plan which they can use to create a personalised scheme of screen time for their children in the context of family viewing.

"Parents play an important role in helping children and teens navigate media, which can have both positive and negative effects... Parents can set expectations and boundaries to make sure their children's media experience is a positive one. The key is mindful use of media within a family."
Megan Moreno, MD, MSEd, MPH, FAAP, lead author of the AAP policy statement on media use in school-aged children and teens.

Problems begin when media use displaces physical activity, hands-on exploration and face-to-face social interaction in the real world, which is critical to learning. Too much screen time can also harm the amount and quality of sleep. Organizations like Common Sense Media can help parents evaluate media content and make decisions about what is appropriate for their family.

Among the AAP recommendations:

  • For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they're seeing.
  • For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
  • For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
  • Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
  • Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline