When it comes to media and young kids, the guidelines are not always consistent.
For example, the World Health Organization says no screens for kids under 1 year old and the American Academy of Pediatrics has offered different advice.
It can be confusing, especially when technology surrounds all of us, all day long. Now researchers have compiled some of the top tips for positive media use for children.
So many screens, so much information. Joscelin Rocha-Hidalgo is a doctoral student at Georgetown University and part of a team examining the latest research on media use and young children.
Rocha-Hidalgo said parents should think of the three C’s, starting with the child.
“What they like, what they don’t like, their mood, temperament," Rocha-Hidalgo explained.
Second, consider the content. Is it educational and age-appropriate?
The third C is the context. Will the media allow kids to transfer information from the app to the real world?
Rocha-Hidalgo said apps should provide an opportunity for back-and-forth interaction between child and parent, much like reading a book.
"You are actively engaged with them. You’re showing there’s a cat in the book, look there’s a cat in the neighborhood. Look at it. It’s black. It’s also like it in the book. So you are interacting with the book. Why not do the same with technology?” Rocha-Hidalgo said.
Here are some other tips: use video chat to connect with far-away family, like grandma, and be creative. Share stories through the screen.
Limit your screen time during a one-on-one with your child. Put your phone on silent or do not disturb. Also, turn off the television when no one is watching.
“It seems to be giving company to kids, but at the end of the day, it’s just distracting them from the real goal of them relating with the real world,” Rocha-Hidalgo said.
Researchers also suggest parents take screens out of the bedroom since screen time before bed makes it hard for kids to fall asleep.
Also, when choosing content, media outlets like PBS kids or Sesame Workshop provide high-quality programs.
For more suggestions, researchers suggest you check out Common Sense Media’s website at www.commonsensemedia.org or read more about parenting kids zero to three at https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/series/screen-sense.