The AAP's new View

5 min read
03 October 2022

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), is changing its position regarding "screen time" or at the very at the very least, shifting its position to the present.

The AAP's upcoming revision to its policy statement was announced in October. It acknowledges that the current screen-time guidelines are outdated. They are best known for restricting screen time for children younger than 2, and for restricting screen time for older kids and teens to two hours per day. Some of the advice currently in place was written before the advent of internet usage. Ari Brown, a pediatrician and chairperson of the AAP Children, Adolescents and Media Leadership Work Group, sent this email. "Our previous recommendations were created because we had sufficient concerns regarding the health and developmental potential risk of TV use to inform parents about the dangers of it."

Schools are eagerly implementing technology wherever money permits as well as grade-school enrichment classes on coding software that lets children compose music using computers and strong anecdotal evidence that playing Minecraft can be beneficial for children who have autism, the strict minimization ignores the obvious. Today's children are "digital natives." Technology is in their blood.

The AAP's new view that is summarized in "Beyond turning off the TV How to counsel parents about media use," sees TVs, computers, gaming systems, smartphones and tablets as mere tools. Depending on how they are used, time spent with them could be beneficial or harmful to children.

Starting in 2012 in 2012, the AAP made children and media the top priority. This focus culminated in the 2015 "Growing up digital" symposium. The conference brought together experts from child development and social science, pediatrics, media, neuroscience and education, and brought attention to the increasing amount of evidence that suggests the potential (and potentially significant) benefits of screen time for children and adolescent growth.

Brown reports that social scientists presented research at the symposium that showed teens can make connections online with peers. These connections with peers can be "significantly valuable" and can be even more supportive than real life friendships.

She says the message is that there are a lot of positive online opportunities for acceptance and support to help teens build their self-esteem and identity.

Other insights revealed possibilities to improve digital media's teaching potential. Neuroscientists, she says, presented research showing that 2-year-olds learn new words by video chat as they do by live chat, suggesting that it's the two-way interaction that is most important. Technology that allows that back-and forth is, therefore, more likely to help students learn.

Here's the problem: Handing an iPad to a 2-year old and then walking away is not going make it.

Brown says that all of the experts agreed on the importance of co-engagement. Screen time is determined by parental involvement. Positive outcomes for young children, particularly dependent on screen time being "together time".

The potential of screen time for good, hinges on the parents, whether the child is 3 or 13. The AAP suggests that parents be involved with their children's digital activities whenever possible and to familiarize themselves with the media they prefer even if they don't decide to.

Parents should also set the guidelines for when, where and for how long children can spend time on screens Set up "screen-free zones" (hint: table at dinner) and be sure to ensure that all content is monitored. The potential advantages of screen time do not negate the possibility of (and potentially significant) dangers.

"Parenting isn't changing," says Brown. "The same rules apply to every environment your child lives in, whether at home, school and even tech ... Set boundaries, be a good role model, know the names of your children's friends are and where they are going."

The AAP's new policy statement on children and media may not come out until late this year, however Brown says it will "acknowledge the gaps in research are ... seek to maximize the opportunities the digital age offers and reduce the risks. It is sufficient to be universal and flexible enough to be updated as technology evolves.

Now That's Cool Kids with Autism have their own private Minecraft server. "Autcraft" lets them reap all the developmental benefits of Minecraft without the bullying that occurs in the main Minecraft space.

Buhl Holst 0
Joined: 1 year ago
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