It's one of the hottest topics in parenting circles: when should you give your child a phone?
And while parents must ultimately decide what is right for their family, the general consensus is that children shouldn't be interacting with devices until they are at least two.
Last week, that recommendation changed.
New guidelines from The American Academy of Pediatrics now recognize that children grow up immersed in digital media, and that this has the potential to both hinder and improve healthy development.
And while the AAP still discourages screen-time for younger children they (and other researchers) have outlined certain conditions when it may be ok.
1. For live video chat
For children younger than 18 months, AAP still recommends no screens. However, researchers have also found that toddlers are more comforted by their mothers via video chat than they are through audio alone. As such, in a world where family members and loved ones can be spread across the globe, the emotional benefit of virtual visits may outweigh the negative effects.
2. When parents are present and engaged
When media replaces human interaction, your child's development may suffer, even when they are watching "educational" videos. For parents with children between ages 18 and 24 months, the AAP recommends limiting viewing to one hour per day and taking an active role in watching educational content. Sit with your child and help them understand what they are seeing and how they can apply it to the world around them.
3. When high quality programming is available
There are thousands of educational apps and videos available to parents but not all of them help children thrive. The AAP named Sesame Workshop and PBS as two trusted makers of television content for kids.
4. When you balance media use with other healthy behaviors
Older children have more access to devices but it is still important to set limits. For children over 6, the recommendation is to make sure screen-time does not interfere with getting adequate sleep, physical activity or other behaviors essential to health. Designating media-free times or media-free locations, such as the bedroom, can also be of benefit.
5. When you are adhering to your family media plan
One of the things that kids complain about is that there is one rule for them and a different rule for their parents. This new tool from the AAP can help families create a holistic 'Media Plan' that will set expectations and rules for everyone in the household.