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Today, NBC posted a news story that the American Academy of Pediatrics has changed its view on the age that children should be allowed to view digital devices. The Academy formerly stressed that children under the age of two should not be allowed to be on screens, but Dr. Jenny Radesky, spokesperson for the Academy, said that the most recent studies show that children as young as around 18 months can learn very basic concepts from media if they use it together with an adult. She said that parents need to be sure to choose good media. She suggested Sesame Workshop, PBS Kids and Common Sense Media as places to visit, saying that the Academy sees these products as trustworthy. Used with a parent, sites like this can be very useful. Putting a child in front of one of these types of sites, or a computer or TV as a babysitting practice, though, is greatly discouraged.

Communicating on Skype or video chat is now seen as acceptable for infants and toddlers. Bringing friends and family members together has a positive influence on family life.

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The Academy stresses that there be no digital devices used at mealtimes or for an hour before bedtime. One-to-one play is crucial in the development of children, and parents need to be connected with their kids, communicating, playing and teaching them in person. I might add here that parents should turn their own devices off when with their kids at dinner and playtime.

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The time now recommended for children under six is about an hour of entertainment screen time per day. This includes TV. Family schedules for meal times, homework, playtime and bedtime need to be observed without the distraction of screen devices. Kids need to sleep and play and get outdoors, as well as socialize with other children and adults. They also need time just to “be” without tech devices, extra curricular activities and parental over involvement.

Of course, as we’ve been made very much aware, the Academy stresses that too much time spent on TV, computers and videos leads to a lack of physical activity and kids who are overweight. Parents need to set time limits and stick to them.

Please go to my blog series, “Your Kids and Screens”, Parts 1, 2A, 2B and 3 to read what experts say about the effects of technology on your child’s brain and development, and how to introduce digital technology into your child’s life.

The internet is here to stay. Best practices for maintaining the physical, social and mental health of our children need to be understood and followed. We’re fortunate to have the guidance of the medical profession.

 

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