Got Kids Under 2? Research Says No Screen Time for Kids or Adults.

Family Matters on 10.24.11
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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) came out with a new study last week stating that children under age two should not get any screen time-at all. The research found that almost 90 percent of children under age two watch some electronic media and that almost one third of three year olds have a television in their bedroom. Even "educational" media is not as beneficial to developing brains as free play time is. Oh, and parents should turn off the screen too because that background media can be detrimental to the children as well.

According to the research:

"Unstructured play time is more valuable for the developing brain than electronic media. Children learn to think creatively, problem solve, and develop reasoning and motor skills at early ages through unstructured, unplugged play. Free play also teaches them how to entertain themselves."

The AAP says that children need to interact with humans in order to learn to act like humans. Not only that, but if we as parents are watching television then we must not be fully present in our children's activity and engaging them. And they found that children with prolonged media exposure were at risk for delays in language development once they reached school age.

Personally, I wouldn't run out and get rid of all the televisions in the house. First of all, I want to know how 90 percent of the parents surveyed got their children under the age of two to sit down and watch television to begin with. I've never seen a child under the age of two sit still. My son started watching television right around the age of two, and my daughter who is two-and-a-half literally just sat down last week for the first time and watched five minutes of television. I could never get her to sit still for an hour or two of screen time, and I've been wishing for that five minutes for a long time.

Just like I have vowed to never drive a minivan, I have also vowed that my children will never have a television in their rooms. That being said, there is almost always a television on in my house if not two. Personally, I like the background noise of the television and yes, it is probably on too much, but I honestly don't think that my children are delayed developmentally as a result of it.

I think the important message to take away from this study is that we need to be aware of how much overall screen time our children are receiving. It is easy to get caught up in how funny it is when junior wants to be just like daddy and have his own iPhone and iPad, but screen time is screen time and while most parents spend a lot of their day plugged in, it is important that we make sure our children are plugged in as little as possible and are getting ample time to develop "naturally." Electronic devices are not babysitters, but if you need five minutes to throw in a load of laundry, I don't see the harm in using them despite what the research says.

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