The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated its guidance on screen time for families by de-emphasizing the term “screen time.” The AAP’s focus is now more on the “how” of media use than the “how much.”
“The key is mindful use of media within a family,” the AAP’s press release quoted Megan Moreno, MD, lead author of the Academy’s policy statement for school-aged children and teens.
That’s a big step forward, “a much better fit with the present circumstances of family lives” than its earlier guidance on kids’ media use, writes psychologist Sonia Livingstone, one of the world’s most recognized researchers on youth and digital media, “more media at home, used for multiple and often valuable purposes, as part of diverse family cultures; certainly no longer something parents can simply police or ban.”
The AAP continues to face quite a dilemma, Dr. Livingstone writes, because “parents want guidance now,” but “there isn’t a robust body of research on the effects of digital media on children.” In her post, she spells out what we do know.
So here are my top takeaways from this up-to-the-minute blend of pediatric, psychological and media expertise:
- Good for the time being: These guidelines are better than before – more aligned with the research we do have – but more is needed. So also take a look at the recommendations of Livingstone and her digital parenting co-researcher Alicia Blum-Ross at the bottom the former’s blog post about the AAP’s guidelines.
- Strike a new kind of balance. Consider balancing advice from experts outside the family with what you can learn from your kids’ own media experiences – open-minded and –hearted interaction with them on how and why they use various media tools and services. And then there’s the very important balance of internal and external media safeguards I wrote about in 2013.