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AAP Updating Children's Screen Time Advisories

The American Academy of Pediatrics is rethinking its kids screen time advice in the age of tablets and smartphones, suggesting it is time to update the advice of discouraging screen time for kids under 2 and limiting it to two hours a day for 2-plus.

In an article for the most recent issue of AAP News, "Beyond ‘turn it off’: How to Advise Families on Media Use", a trio of doctors who chaired relevant AAP groups and committees dealing with children and the media said that policy statements like the AAP's 2011 children's media use advice had lagged the pace of digital innovation.

In a world where “screen time” is becoming simply “time,” our policies must evolve or become obsolete. The public needs to know that the Academy’s advice is science-driven, not based merely on the precautionary principle.

Among key takeaways from a May symposium on the issue of growing up in a digital world (formal recommendations to follow) are: 1) media is essentially another environment, with children doing the same things they have always done—talking, playing—only virtually, and that like any environment, it can have positive and negative effects; 2) family participation with media "facilitates social interactions and learning"; 3) the quality of the content is more important than how much time is spent with the media or where it is viewed; 4) set reasonable limits; 5) it is OK for teens to be online because that is where relationships "integral to adolescent development" are now forming; 6) create tech-free zones, particularly at mealtimes.

The report was written by Dr. Ari Brown, chair of the AAP Children, Adolescents and Media Leadership Work Group; Dr. Donald L. Shifrin, chair of the Growing Up Digital: Media Research Symposium Planning Group; and Dr. David L. Hill, chair of the AAP Council on Communications and Media Executive Committee.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.