A recent study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics re-evaluated appropriate screen time limits for young children. The assessment redefined “screen time” as the use of digital media exclusively for entertainment.
In the past, scientists and parents regarded screen time as the collective amount of time a child interacted with their device –and used this as the main factor to assess the potential benefits and/or consequences of screen exposure. However, this new metric focuses on the content and intent of device usage, addressing the positive results from educational-technology research. For example, an experiment in Australia concluded that children who play video games every day tend to perform better academically than those who do not. The theory goes that children who play video games develop critical thinking skills by solving challenges presented in the game. In contrast, students who use social media more frequently performed lower on standardized tests.
Given the debate over the relationship between screen time and child development –especially in the edtech world–this provides a point of clarity for parents as they work with their child to develop healthy device usage habits.
The new guidelines are as follows:
- 18 months and younger: no screen time
- 2-5 years old: one hour/day
- 6-years-old and up: prioritize and complete other activities before screentime. Another study showed that ~4 hours was “just right” for peak performance.
Ultimately, it’s not necessarily how long children spend online, but what they are spending their time on. The following are fun resources for quality, engaging, and educational online content:
Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media includes resources for educational purposes or pure entertainment. They regularly compile a “Best of” List for Games, Apps, Websites, Movies, TV, etc. that are easily accessible through a navigation pane. These lists are broken down on a scale of 1-5 and organized by age group (“Preschoolers”, “Little Kids”, “Big Kids”, and “Tweens”). Another helpful feature for parents: they provide reviews for new movies and games, basing their rating on seven key elements (positive messages, positive role models, violence, sex, language, consumerism, drinking/drugs/smoking).
PBS Kids – Reading Games
PBS Kids hosts a variety of game on their website and mobile app. The games are organized by subject/topic or by the TV show it’s based on.
“The U.S. government’s portal site that provides a gateway to hundreds of Federal and other websites for use by kids and teens.”
Kids.gov provides games and other educational resources for Kids (grades K-5) and Pre-Teens (grades 6-8). They have a variety of interactive activities centered around learning the science and history of your environment – for example, they have a “Design Your Own Roller Coaster” challenge listed under the Science category. Other resources include Art and Music, Math, Jobs & Careers, Online Safety, etc.
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