Screen time' refers to time spent on 'screen devices', which refer to any electronic equipment meant for viewing or entertainment that has a screen interface. These can include:
Although some screen time can be educational, it is easy to go overboard. Some caregivers also report using screen time to 'babysit' their young children to provide them time for daily chores. 'Background screen time' refers to time when the screen is on in the background or being watched by other household members, while your child is doing another non-screen activity.
The 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) media policy statement1 recommends the following:
1. In children younger than 18 months, avoid screen use (except for video-chatting).
2. For children 18 to 24 months of age, if you want to introduce screen time, choose high-quality programming. Watch it with your child to interactively discuss what you are seeing. Avoid solo screen use in this age group.
3. For children 2 to 5 years of age, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programming, coview with your children, help children understand what they are seeing, and help them apply what they learn to the world around them.
4. No screen use 1 hour before bedtime, and remove devices from bedrooms before bed.
Excessive screen time exposure has been associated with various medical and developmental problems:
How do I limit screen time?
The time period spent on a screen device is generally a solitary and a passive one. Young children should be learning to interact socially, communicate with others, practise physical exercise, develop imaginative play, think creatively, and engage in multi-sensory exploration. For children under 2 years, the importance of caregivers sitting down to play interactively with the child cannot be overstated. Interactive play promotes language and communication skills, as well as social and cognitive development. Play make-believe, peekaboo, hide-and-seek, and get your child to imitate you doing nursery rhyme actions and songs. For older children, offer fun alternatives. such as reading and storytelling, role-playing or dressing up, building blocks or jigsaw puzzles. art and craft, family board games, or outdoor play, hide-and-seek, or sports such as ball games or swimming.
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