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Beyond ‘turn it off’: How to advise families on media use

Ari Brown, Donald L. Shifrin, and David L. Hill

Copyright © 2015 by the American Academy of Pediatrics

When families seek our professional advice o n m a n a g i n g technology in their children’s lives, we turn to research-based AAP g u i d e l i n e s t h a t promote positive media use and discourage potentially harmful use. The most well-known of these guidelines discourage “screen time” for children under age 2 and limit “screen time” to two hours a day for children over age 2 .As we know, however, scientific research and policy statements lag behind the pace of digital innovation.

 

Dr. Brown Case in point:

The 2011 AAP policy statement Media Use by Children Younger Than Two Years was drafted prior to the first generation iPad and explosion of apps aimed at young children. Today, more than 30% of U.S. children first play with a mobile device when they still are in diapers, T H E S A N D C A S T L E according to Common Sense Media. Furthermore, almost 75% of 13 to 17 year olds have smartphones, and 24% admit using their phones almost constantly, according to the Pew Research Center Dr. Shifrin 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 m e r e l y o n t h e precautionary principle. Toward this goal, the Academy convened the invitation-only Growing Up Digital: Media Research Symposium in May. Supported by the AAP Friends of Children Fund, this two-day event brought together leading s o c i a l s c i e n c e , neuroscience and media researchers, educators, p e d i a t r i c ia n s, a n d representatives from key partner organizations.

 

Dr. Hill:

Given the breadth of the topic, the symposium limited its focus to early learning, game-based learning, social/emotional and developmental concerns, and strategies to foster digital citizenship . A number of key messages for parents emerged from the AAP Growing Up Digital: M e d i a R e s e a r c h Symposium. Among them is that family participation with media facilitates social interactions and learning. Parents should play a video game with their kids, and always co-view with infants and toddlers.

 

The following key messages for parents emerged :

 Media is just another environment. Children do the same things they have always done, only virtually. Like any environment, media can have positive and negative effects.

 Parenting has not changed. The same parenting rules apply to your children’s real and virtual environments. Play with them. Set limits; kids need and expect them. Teach kindness. Be involved. Know their friends and where they are going with them.

 Role modeling is critical. Limit your own media use, and model online etiquette. Attentive parenting requires face time away from screens.

 We learn from each other. Neuroscience research shows that very young children learn best via two-way communication. “Talk time” between caregiver and child remains critical for language development. Passive video presentations do not lead to language learning in infants and young toddlers. The more media engender live interactions, the more educational value they may hold (e.g., a toddler chatting by video with a parent who is traveling). Optimal educational media opportunities begin after age 2, when media may play a role in bridging the learning achievement gap. Content matters. The quality of content is more important than the platform or time spent with media. Prioritize how your child spends his time rather than just setting a timer.

 Media is just another environment. Children do the same things they have always done, only virtually. Like any environment, media can have positive and negative effects.

 Parenting has not changed. The same parenting rules apply to your children’s real and virtual environments. Play with them. Set limits; kids need and expect them. Teach kindness. Be involved. Know their friends and where they are going with them.
 Role modeling is critical. Limit your own media use, and model online etiquette. Attentive parenting requires face time away from screens.

 We learn from each other. Neuroscience research shows that very young children learn best via two-way communication. “Talk time” between caregiver and child remains critical for language development. Passive video presentations do not lead to language learning in infants and young toddlers. The more media engender live interactions, the more educational value they may hold (e.g., a toddler chatting by video with a parent who is traveling). Optimal educational media opportunities begin after age 2, when media may play a role in bridging the learning achievement gap.

 

Content matters. The quality of content is more important than the platform or time spent with media. Prioritize how your child spends his time rather than just setting a timer. Digital life begins at a young age, and so must parental guidance. Children who are “growing up digital” should learn healthy concepts .

 

Retrieved from http://www.aapublications.org/content/36/10/54.full

 

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