Even toddlers can benefit from educational TV and apps, pediatricians say
By Mary Elizabeth Dallas
MONDAY, Jan. 30, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Some pediatric health experts may have loosened the reins a bit on "screen time" for the youngest of children, but that doesn't mean parents should rely on electronic devices as babysitters, one pediatrician says.
"Most of us use media every day. It's how we interact with the world and it's how we learn new ideas," said Dr. Sara Lee, who's with University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland.
"Children will need to know how to use these forms in healthy, effective ways," Lee said in a hospital news release. New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) "give parents a lot more guidance on how to use media with their kids at home," she added.
In the new screen-time guidelines for children, the AAP admitted there are notable benefits associated with educational shows or apps, and connecting with friends and loved ones online, Lee said.
The academy now recommends the following:
"One of the main points of the new recommendations is the importance of watching these programs and apps together," said Lee. "I think that reflects a lot of what parents were already doing. Now they can do it without feeling like they are doing something wrong."
While these rules affect children's use of electronic devices, Lee pointed out that parents' habits also matter. Children look to their parents as an example of how to behave, she explained.
"I encourage parents to examine their own media use," Lee said. "Are you following your own rules about screen-free meals or screen-free times? Screens in your bedroom at night may not be beneficial to you either."
It's also important for parents to keep track of time spent online or in front of a screen. It may help to download apps with timers that will automatically turn media off or block social media sites after a certain amount of time, she suggested.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about children and media.
SOURCE: University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, news release, Jan. 23, 2017
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