It is virtually impossible to go out to dinner and not see an entire family sitting around messing with their phones. The lack of connection has become a noticeable problem that is only increasing as technology becomes more advanced.
Our dependence on these devices has started affecting our young children and toddlers as well and can have potentially damaging effects on their minds and intellectual capabilities. This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics has updated their guidelines for media usage by young children.
Guidelines For Usage
Their new guidelines are separated into two categories based on a child’s age and provide general suggestions that parents should take into account when debating the amount of screen time their kid should be getting.
The academy recommends that children younger than 24 months should avoid screen time and digital media usage altogether and that children 18-24 months can be introduced to digital media in a controlled fashion and never while they are alone.
For children two to five years old, the academy suggests only allowing them to watch a maximum of one hour of high-quality television and that the parent should be present with the child during those times. The academy also wants parents to be smart about when they let their toddlers watch television.
For example, no screen time an hour before bed, and no digital media usage during mealtimes sets good examples for the children and allows them to form healthy habits.
The next category deals with children who are in school and ranges from 5-18 years old. The academy recognizes that responsible digital media usage can actually have a positive effect on a student’s ability to learn new information, gain exposure to new ideas, and receive social support from members of their peers.
However, they do find that improper usage by students can lead to weight gain, lack of sleep, and an introduction to inappropriate material that should have been monitored by either the school or the parents.
Their recommendations try to combat these negative effects and include having a set-time where digital media usage is allowed and promoting at least one hour of physical activity a day combined with 8-12 hours of sleep a night.
These guidelines are designed to help our young people develop positive habits surrounding digital media usage and are allowing them to keep the useful benefits that technology can provide, while maintaining the empathy and connection that separates the human race from the rest of the animal world.