Updated screen time guidelines


It's not uncommon to see babies using electronic devices these days. Technology is a way of life for children and adults alike, but what's the safest and most beneficial way to use it?

It's important to remember that the same parenting rules apply in both the real and virtual worlds.

"Know what your child is doing, know who your child is with," said Kim Giuliano, M.D., a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children's. "Teach them to be kind, teach them to be safe and play with your child in that environment so you know what is going on."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently refreshed their screen time advice to reflect more contemporary media usage.

Instead of limiting a child's screen time to two hours per day, they now recommend setting reasonable limits and making sure the content is high quality.

The quality of what your child is watching is important. Parents should hunt down quality, age-appropriate apps, games and programs that require more than just swiping and pushing.

Research shows that very young children learn best through two-way communication because it helps their brain and language development. However, passively watching cartoons on a device is not a good use of media for an infant.

Certain kinds of media may be okay for babies to use though, like an interactive video chat with out-of-town family. Kids shouldn't be using media constantly and it's important to preserve playtime and social interaction with peers and family too,

Here are some suggestions:

  • Make mealtime media-free
  • Put away devices leading up to bedtime for healthier sleeping habits
  • Monitor what media kids access and use, including any websites and social media sites
  • Watch TV, movies and videos with children and teenagers, using the content as a bridge to discuss family values
  • Lead by example

"If parents are checking their work emails on their smart phones and looking at the computer themselves, it sends a conflicting message to the child," said Giuliano.