You’ve spent so much time eating well, exercising and providing a healthy pregnancy for your developing baby. Now, as you approach your due date – or as you struggle to determine what is and isn’t healthy for you baby - it’s important to discern your parenting and household culture around screen time.
To support your efforts, I’m going to share recent, research-based findings, as well as top-notch resources you and your partner can use to determine your position on the topic. Feel free to share this post with others – especially immediate family, nannies, caregivers or others who may be tempted to use gadgets to occupy your precious baby’s time.
Just to be clear, those Skype or video sessions with grandma, grandpa and other loved ones that you enjoy are just fine. Here, I’m talking about using your phone or tablet as a source of entertainment or to “keep the baby/toddler/child occupied and quiet.”
Let’s start with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
In 2016, the AAP released its newest findings and opinions about babies and children in terms of screen time and media. Click Here to read more and/or hear from AAP experts.
Their opinion is that parents should prioritize physically engaged, person-to-person, creative playtime and bonding – and ditch screen time for babies/toddlers altogether - until at least 18-months, and preferably until two-years of age. After that, minimal “directed screen time,” (aka: parent-involved and supervised learning programs, in very short doses) may not have any negative effects.
Just to clarify, “passive screen time” means your baby/toddler/child/teen has individual control over the gadget, with minimal- to no supervision.
The short story is that screen time should be limited to:
· Infancy to two years: Minimal to none.
· 2- to 5-years: No more than 1-hour per day of supervised, high-quality programs/apps.
· 6-years and up: Co-create appropriate and consistent time limits for age-appropriate games/channels/etc., ensuring it doesn’t take away from their daily needs for physical activity, time spent outdoors, adequate sleep, etc.
Read, Glow Kids, and/or Watch Interviews with author Dr. Karadaras
Dr. Karadaras is both a highly revered psychologist with degrees from Ivy League academia and a father. He grew wary about the increasing use of screens by both children and adults, and then he scoured the research. The nearly unanimous findings regarding the unhealthy side effects of screens and media overexposure on children alarmed him.
The result was an incredible book, full of research and relevant citations regarding the subject of children and screen time, titled, Glow Kids. I highly recommend reading it. Also, you can visit Dr. Karadaras’s website to watch/listen to some of his interviews.
Right now, your focus is your newborn baby and doing all you can to raise him/her up healthy, happy and safe. Those birthdays will fly by all-to-fast, though, so I recommend bookmarking the HealthyChildren.org website, which has very balanced information on all of the usual – and not-so-usual – topics that will arise as you grow your family.
On this topic, I specifically recommend their posts,Where We Stand: Screen Time, and,Why to Avoid TV for Infants & Toddlers.
Heed the Wise Recommendations of Common Sense Media
Again, that precious baby of yours is going to become a child before you know it. If you have more than one child, deciding who can spend how much time, watching what, becomes more complex.
That’s where Common Sense Media comes in handy. Their site keeps parents abreast of the latest research pertaining to screens and media. For example, here’s their link to Screen Time Parent Concerns, where you can explore screen time questions by age. However, one of the best services Common Sense Media offers are very balanced and reasonable recommendations as to the most appropriate age for a particular TV show, game or movie. This works wonders for helping parents establish a well-founded opinion on what their children can watch (or not!) and why.
Their site also provides instructions for things like setting parental controls on Netflix and other tools or tricks you might not have known are available otherwise.
Want to keep your baby and toddler entertained in a screen-free way? How about producing a mini-album full of pictures of him/herself, you, siblings, grandparents, pets and other favorite people, places and things. You’ll be amazed at how long that will keep them occupied. Babies and children love to look at pictures of themselves.
Interested in creating a professional album of your newborn? Contact me, Marcela Limon, owner of Lemonshoots. I love keeping infants and babies entertained – sans screens – using soft, comfortable and playful props mixed with lots of snuggling and cuddling. I look forward to scheduling your session.