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Reading Spotlight Blog - : Short Summary of New AAP Digital Guidelines

Are Your Kids Using Too Much Media?

A Summary of AAP Guidelines

Kids’ media use is a challenge for today’s parents because it is such an integral part of our lives. Excessive media exposure can hinder physical, speech, and social development, as well as sleep.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently changed the guidelines for children’s use of digital media. Much effort and research went into their efforts to guide families. Our views have been added to the major AAP standards in boldface print.


  • BabyNo viewing until 18 months This is the time when human interaction is all-important. Love and communication are still the most significant. In light of modern parent work/travel requirements, video chat is okay. The distance between family members in our modern world is also a factor in this change.


  • Ages 2 to 5Only one hour of good, educational programing daily (Like Sesame Street, for example.) Parent participation in viewing and technology is desirable at this age. Human connection is decisive now. All parenting rules still apply. Children should be taught kindness, self-discipline, socialization, and respect for others. They need to learn how to actually listen. Reading books, playing mental games, and participating in physical recreation together is more valuable than digital babysitting. Check out my Blog Post about the Importance of Nursery Rhymes in relation to learning to read.


  • After Age 5Set Limits on time and content. There is much to see, learn, and enjoy in digital media, but parents really do need to monitor the time and content of online activities. Kids learn from whatever is in front of them. Parents should make a plan for viewing. Also, they should prioritize all home activities of their children. Social media can be good or bad. Parents can use teachable moments when children make mistakes. For help in making a plan for healthy digital use, the AAP recommends using the Family Media Plan healthy


  • Media breaks are necessary. Sometimes it is important to put away all cell phones, TV, computers, and video games. Encourage media-free places and times. Recount the day’s activities, successes, and disappointments, face-to-face, with true parental attention. It is really good for everyone! Try getting some exercise together, or play one of Reading Spotlight’s Reading Bingo Games in our TPT Reading Spotlight Store.


When children passively watch video, they begin to expect constant stimulation. Their cognitive skills do not get exercise–all the visualization work is done for them. When sitting next to parents who read stories, children will understand the link between the written word and communication. It’s not easy, but do your children big favor–limit media!

If and when kids must watch TV, check our interesting ideas about Using TV to Improve Reading Comprehension skills.


Some information in this post was adapted from Shapiro, Jordan, The American Academy of Pediatrics Just Changed their Guidelines on Kids and Screen Time, Forbes /Tech, 9/30/16.


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