On Friday The American Academy of Pediatrics (APP) released their newest report on screen time and media use in children and adolescents. If you’re at all familiar with previous recommendations, you’ll note that these take a dramatically different approach, one which feels like we at Fidgets2Widgets have known all along.
Gone are the days of explicit time limits for screen time and media consumption for kids. Now, it’s all about the type of screen time and media consumption.
Instead of setting a two-hour time limit on screen time, the guidelines focus on ensuring that your child gets the recommended daily amount of physical activity and sleep for their age-group and making sure that whatever screen time they enjoy is high-quality screen time.
Previous recommendations didn’t distinguish between different types of screen time, including educational apps, videos, video games, and TV shows. The new recommendations now realize that most screens are multipurpose and can encourage interaction, engagement, socialization, and education.
Screen time can even strengthen relationships. Whether through a Skype session or social media interaction, screen time can connect you and your children with cross-country family and friends. But how do you ensure that your children are behaving properly on these social-heavy screens?
The new recommendations empower parents and educators to teach their children about healthy media use. Pediatrician and researcher Jenny Radesky says, “What’s most important is that parents be their child’s ‘media mentor.’ That means teaching them how to use it as a tool to create, connect and learn.” Making sure our children are mindful media users and excellent digital citizens will go a long ways to making sure that the time they spend with a screen is well-used.
The Family Media Plan tool was released alongside the new recommendations and will help you set guidelines of your own that focus on reaching physical activity and sleep goals instead of banning screen time. Though it’s important to note that what works for one family or child might not work for another, this tool is a good starting point for finding out what’s right for you.
There are a lot of tools out there that can help you adjust to these new guidelines. Common Sense Media is always a go-to resource, one that we use often in building our own curriculum. They also have a good summary of the new guidelines and how you can incorporate them at home.
Screen time as a learning tool isn’t a new concept to many, but there are some who definitely struggle with this new way of thinking. But we’ve seen the benefit in our Widgetarians first hand. We’ve seen shy children come out of their shell after being allowed to build things in Minecraft with others. We’ve seen reading skills and grades improve as a result of video games. We’ve seen sedentary children get their heart pumping with Wii Sports. Finally, the rest of the world is realizing and accepting that screen time can be a beneficial or positive force in children’s lives if used properly!