Television: it might be the best babysitter you have to distract or calm your child in your home.
But how much is too much?
The American Academy of Pediatrics has released its updated screen time recommendations for children.
The new recommendations have loosened the definition of “screen time.”
When a pediatrician told Katelin Brewer-Colie to keep her kids away from TV screens until age two, she took it seriously.
“We followed that pretty closely. The second one got a little more because they’re only 18 months apart. It’s addictive,” said Brewer-Colie. “I feel like TV time, we do that more as family time.”
“We watch Masterchef Junior,” said Brewer-Colie’s daughter.
She says, now that they’re older, limiting them to her goal of one hour proves challenging.
“This morning they didn’t have school and they got to go on for an hour and it was impossible to get them off. There was a lot of resistance we’ll call it. Sometimes it’s easier just not to go there,” she said.
This week, the American Academy of Pediatrics defined screen-time as time spent using digital media for entertainment purposes.
The previous rule, no screen time at all until age two, was in place since 1999.
Now, the Academy suggests, no TV until 18 months. However, video chatting is allowed.
For children between 18-24 months, parents can begin introducing digital media, according to recommendations.
Then, just one hour per day of high-quality programming is recommended for children between ages of 2-6.
That amount is down from a 2-hour limit in the previous recommendation.
“At the program, we do not watch TV here,” said Amie Fitzgerald.
Amie Fitzgerald is the lead preschool teacher at Little One’s University in Essex Junction.
She says the center’s director was influential in the shaping of new child care regulations in Vermont.
Beginning September 1st, child care centers are limited to 30 minutes per day of screen time.
“If parents said to me, ‘I’m curious what your opinion is on screen time.’ I would say ‘Whenever possible, don’t use it. If there’s opportunities to talk with your child, your child is learning so much from facial cues, tone of voice, closeness, even just body contact that they’re not getting from the TV,” said Amie Fitzgerald.
It’s also suggested that if the TV or tablet is on, parents and children should watch it together.
Parents should turn the TVs and other devices off before bed.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also suggests turning off devices when not in use and avoiding media as the only way to calm your child.