The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

American Academy of Paediatrics Rethink

The influential American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) has revised its screen time recommendations. CMF Academic Advisory Board member, Sonia Livingstone, takes a close look at the new recommendations and their evidence base. 

Sonia is Professor of Social Psychology at LSE’s Department of Media and Communications and has more than 25 years of experience in media research with a particular focus on children and young people. She is the lead investigator of the Parenting for a Digital Future research project.

The AAP formulated its famous 2×2 screen time recommendations for families when television was the main screen at home, well before today’s influx of tablets, smart phones, games consoles and laptops. The recommendations were: no screen time for children younger than 2, no more than 2 hours per day for older children ,

On 21st October 2016 the AAP revised its recommendations, given that the media environment in homes is changing fast, as is the evidence about its possible impacts.

The AAP lays out detailed recommendations for different ages of child and proposes a Family Media Plan, with rules for children and their parents, and designated ‘media free’ times. They even  provide an interactive online tool to help create this (there's a link on our CMF info & Advice page).

Sonia argues that while the new guidelines fit better with the current circumstances of family lives, the AAP faces a dilemma: "...there isn’t a robust body of research on the effects of digital media on children, yet parents want guidance now. So in their report the evidence, such as it is, is laid out. But the link from the evidence to the recommendations is not as strong as one would hope."

Her conclusions seek to help parents take a balanced view of screen time. "Behind a lot of the AAP’s evidence and recommendations is not so much the idea that screens are bad for children but that social, cognitive and physical activity is good for children. It would be interesting to see more emphasis on this positive point. For what parents really need is encouragement in these uncertain and pressured times."

Sonia's thoughtful and detailed critique can be read in full here.

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The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)