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Technology and Kids: New Recommendations by Pediatricians' Group

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting media use for children of all ages. (cdc.org)
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting media use for children of all ages. (cdc.org)
October 24, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS -- The American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines for how much time kids should spend in front of a screen - whether it's the television, the computer, a tablet or a smartphone.

The AAP said families should come up with individualized plans based on a child's age, and they should ensure a balance of good sleep, hygiene, adequate physical activity, a healthy diet, and positive social interactions. The guidelines also called for strict limits of screen exposure for infants and toddlers.

The group's annual conference is being held in California this week. Dr. Jennifer Shu, chair of the AAP National Conference Planning Group, said that this year’s conference will feature a variety of workshops on the topic of screen time.

"What impacts do screens have in very young children, such as infants, who are exposed to TV and cell phones,” Shu said. "One is called 'A Weighty Matter,' and this is an obesity expert who's talking about the impact of technology on obesity."

For children 18 months and younger, the AAP said video chatting with a relative is OK, but recommended against much more. For toddlers, a maximum of one hour of educational screen time was recommended. More time is allowed for kids age six and older, but parents are encouraged to monitor what they're doing.

Shu said pediatricians from across the country come to the conference to learn better ways to take care of their little patients.

"Information exchange that can happen at these meetings is extremely valuable because you can learn from other doctors,” Shu said. "I'm constantly asking, well, how can we physically practice medicine so that we can serve our patients better?"

Some of the other topics at the conference will include youth sexuality, infectious diseases, lead exposure and the Flint water crisis, video game violence, and a session called "I'll Sleep When My Battery Dies," focused on health problems children and teenagers face when they aren't getting enough sleep.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN