Digital Media Guidelines for Parents of Preschoolers

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Digital Media Guidelines for Parents of Preschoolers

Advice from a pediatric nurse

By Working Nurse
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How much is too much when it comes to small children and digital media? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently weighed in with updated guidelines on digital media use for preschool kids.

High-Quality Content Only

With digital media pervading nearly every aspect of our daily lives, it’s become more challenging than ever for parents to know where and how to draw the line when it comes to their kids’ media exposure. The latest AAP guidelines recommend minimizing exposure for children younger than 18 months. This includes not only TV and online content, but also e-books and video chat. That doesn’t mean your toddler can’t say hello to grandma on FaceTime, but those online interactions should be closely supervised.

Even for older preschoolers (up to age 5), the AAP recommends limiting digital media to an hour of high-quality content a day — and none at all during meals or before bedtime. Using videos or video games as pacifiers is another no-no. What about educational games and apps? The AAP is dubious about the benefits of most commercially available educational content for preschoolers, although “Sesame Street” still gets the nod. Learning to use technology is seldom a problem for young children and apps are no substitute for reading with your child or encouraging other forms of imaginative play.

Advice from a Pediatric Nurse

Parents of young children should also take a hard look at their own media use. The AAP warns that being constantly glued to our screens can shortchange our children of developmentally vital one-on-one engagement. Judith Tighe, RN, CPN, a med/surg nurse at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) who recently wrote about this subject for CHLA’s RN Remedies blog, says the best advice for parents is, “Be a media mentor for your family, turn off the TV, put down the phone and interact with your children at every possible opportunity.”

Parents can find more media recommendations at For an overview of recent clinical research on children and media, check out the November 2016 issue of the AAP journal Pediatrics.

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