Pediatricians have changed their minds about digital devices. Earlier guidance from specialists in the field said to keep children away from smartphones and tablets. But more recent guidelines states there is nothing inherently harmful to children about digital devices. It’s all about how much usage they get out of the device and what they use it for. Specialists say that it’s ok for toddlers that are as young as 18 months old to interact with digital media occasionally. For children under the age of 5, they say that digital device time should be around one hour a day.
Use Digital Devices Together
Parents don’t need to feel guilty anymore about allowing their children to use smartphones or tablet computers. The American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines that make room for digital devices and digital media in the lives of children as young as 18 months old. The association believes that when it comes to digital devices, it’s what you use them for that is important. Digital devices can be great educational tools. Also, they can be a way of bringing the family together. Instead of being an isolating factor, they can help bring everyone together and interact.
The new recommendations move away from the previous guidelines that were stricter. Those guidelines didn’t allow any screen time for children under the age of 2. That meant no computers, no smartphones and no television.
Dr. Jenny Radesky is an expert in child development for the Boston Medical Center. She wrote the new guidelines for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Radesky says that the age guidelines have changed a little bit. The changes reflect results from the latest studies.
“The literature now shows that around as young as around 18 months, toddlers, can start learning very basic concepts from media if they are using it together with an adult.”
Said Dr. Jenny Radesky.
Choose Good Quality Content
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents use digital devices as teaching tools. Using the devices to bond with the child can create a connection between the parent and the child. When interacting with digital media under the guidance of an adult, children learn. They later apply the knowledge that they gained to the world around them. So it would be ok to introduce media even to toddlers as young as 18 months old. But only if the parent uses the digital device together with the child.
Another condition to the good use of digital devices when children are concerned is the use of high quality media. It’s a good idea to use content providers that create content specifically designed for children of young ages. The content should be engaging and fun, but also age appropriate. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommendations for parents that are unsure where to look.
“We’re saying, go to Sesame Workshop, go to PBS Kids, go to Common Sense Media. We trust those products because they were developed with the input of psychologists and child development experts.”
Said Dr. Jenny Radesky.
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