The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is the agency in charge of the guidelines we all follow to keep our children healthy and growing safely. Not only that, but it is what law makers use to pass laws involving the safety and future of our children. Seems like an important and influential group, right? Why then are they changing the guidelines on the amount of time that is safe for children based on the fact that screen time is everywhere these days?
Articles about this issue claim that the ubiquitous nature of digital media makes it unrealistic to enforce the current standards. One went so far as to say “At this point, worrying about exposure to screens is like worrying about exposure to agriculture, indoor plumbing, the written word, or automobiles” (Shapiro ). So, not only is 2 hours a day unreasonable to limit older children and saying no screen time until a child turns 2 is impossible, but because technology is everywhere we shouldn’t worry about it at all. Essentially we are changing the guidelines not because of what is good for children, or what children should be allowed to do for their development, but because screens have become a way of life. Is it reasonable to change rules set by scientific research on what will harm a child’s brain because that activity has become something every person is doing? Of course not. “Suggesting that guidelines need to be changed because the policy is out of touch is akin to increasing the healthy amount of sugar kids can eat because people still give their kids junk food” (Johnson). Just because popularity of something changes, doesn’t mean it becomes better for us. We have nutrition guidelines based on things that are good for kids, not based on what they are being given. Recommendations are there to provide a guide for what is appropriate for parents who want to know. How can they simply decide that since everyone is doing it, it needs to be recommended for kids as well?
As parents and loved ones who care about children in our lives we need to pay more attention to what is going on. As the oldest of 8 siblings and having 3 nieces and nephews, I have seen first-hand the addiction kids these days have for digital media. They are all average children, which means they fit the statistic: spending an average of 7 hours on digital media a day that isn’t school related. That is what is acceptable to society right now. Their parents don’t see anything wrong with this. Nothing wrong with kids who are constantly online or on tablets taking in whatever media they choose with no limitations or rules to govern their time. How is that acceptable? It won’t change unless people stand up and change it. If the digital media was harmful to kid’s brains before, how has the fact that screens are more readily available changed that fact? That’s like saying that junk food is bad for us, but since it’s all we eat we should tweak the nutrition guidelines to say that it’s fine. It doesn’t make any sense, and neither does the AAP changing their guidelines now.
Until the new recommendations come out, the AAP has released some tips to get involved in your child’s digital life in order to make sure they aren’t being exposed to anything they shouldn’t be. Those include:
- Be aware of what your child is doing
- Set limits and encourage playtime
- Participate as a family
- Be a role model
No matter what the guidelines say, be mindful of how much time your children are spending on digital media. As parents and caregivers we have a responsibility to teach them what is good for them, and just like the current guidelines stipulate, that isn’t letting life pass them by while they play games, watch television, or immerse themselves in the latest YouTube video. Set limits based on what is healthy for your child and not what they think you should let them do. Pay attention to what they are doing online, and encourage them to play outside, express creativity in play and crafts, and to use their imaginations while they still can. They have all their lives to become social media and digital communications experts. So while our children are still young encourage them to play and create, and limit the digital addictions they are exposed to.
“Children And Media – Tips For Parents.” Children And Media – Tips For Parents. American Academy of Pediatrics, 2015. Web. 7 Mar. 2016.
The AAP uses this article to give tips to parents on how to navigate digital media use no matter what guidelines end up being recommended in 2016. They discuss in detail many different options parents have to keep kids on track with media usage. They detail not only the mentioned tips but more in-depth advice on watching kids, getting involved in their digital life, and how to lead by example and be a role model for them. This doesn’t necessarily lend itself to whether or not the guidelines change, but does give parents a way to get involved whether they choose to follow the new guidelines, the old guidelines, or any mixture of what truly works for their children’s health.
Johnson, Chandra. “What Changing Screen Time Research Means for Young Kids and Families.” What Changing Screen Time Research Means for Young Kids and Families. Deseret News National, 14 Nov. 2015. Web. 7 Mar. 2016.
This article includes quotes from members of the AAP who are working on the guidelines. The author goes into how prevalent digital media is for children in our society, and why the AAP felt they needed to revise the guidelines now that digital media has run so rampant in our society. There are numerous direct quotes from influential people from the AAP and the author discussed why parents need to be careful with exposing their children to digital media in all forms. This article gives the argument against changing the guidelines and uses facts and quotes from pertinent individuals to make the author’s point. It provides things that the AAP members have actually said about the process on both sides.
Shapiro, Jordan. “The American Academy of Pediatrics Just Changed Their Guidelines on Kids and Screen Time.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 30 Sept. 2015. Web. 7 Mar. 2016.
Shapiro’s article discusses his reasoning for believing that digital media isn’t something parents should worry about limiting. He explains his own quotes in depth and goes into detail about comparing digital media in our society to agriculture and automobiles (as far as being afraid of exposing our children to them). His point of view is that children don’t need to be limited in their usage, but he does also go into detail about how parents should pay attention to what their children are doing and why. This author gave the argument for changing the guidelines, in fact seemingly making the argument for no guidelines at all. This gives the opposite argument to mine, giving Shapiro’s article a sort of devil’s advocate voice in my piece or writing. It is important to be completely informed before making a decision on an issue, and Shapiro’s article gives the other side of information.