As we begin the frenzy of shopping for media devices for the holidays, now is a great time to revisit media screening and counseling! A big thank you to one of our local experts Dr. Pooja Tandon for lending her expertise in reviewing and updating this topic for us. Additional national media experts among our faculty, Drs. Megan Moreno and Dimitri Christakis, served on the committees that updated the most recent national AAP media policy released last month.
Materials to review:
- Media screening and counseling case and discussion
- AAP Media policy statements for school-aged children and for younger children
- New media screen plan for families (I tested this out and it seems quite useful)
Take-home points to review on media for youth:
- Media exposure for youth is significant with quantity and quality important for us to address. We now have a plethora of devices that contribute to media exposure for youth, and most babies are exposed to TV by 4 months old!
- The 2 most important questions to ask our families in clinic are: 1) How much screen media is your child exposed to every day? 2) Does your child have a TV or internet-connected device in the bedroom?
- Parents should be encouraged to set limits on screen time – this is less often done among low income families. Children whose parents make an effort to limit media use (through the home media environment and rules about screen time) spend less time with media than their peers. Parents should be “media mentors” and teach children and teens how to use media appropriately. Youth should demonstrate knowledge/skills to use, like having a driver’s license.
- Based on guidance from the AAP, we recommend no screen time for children under 2 (even apps!) Note in the recent guidelines, apps were acceptable starting at age 18 months, and videochatting with family did not count toward screen time. We should limit recreational screen time to an hour per day. For older children screen time does not include school use or homework. If parents do allow more (a reality!), at least help them select more educational/prosocial media (like PBS shows such as Sesame Street).
- TVs in the bedroom are (and other media that are connected to the internet) are associated with many concerning negative effects on health. Counsel early about media to help prevent the placement of TV’s in the bedroom (which is over 50% by age 2-4 among low-income families). Parents should limit media time 1 hour before bed.