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Screen time for young kids has been in the news a lot lately. The last few days of October gave us two new resources on the topic of children’s media use.

First, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidance on managing children’s and adolescents’ media use. Access to the new policy requires a subscription to the American Academy of Pediatrics, but the press release (opens in a new window) provides a glimpse into the thinking:

  • It may be helpful to think in terms of a “media diet.” Choices within the diet include how much time to spend with screens and the content of what’s being viewed.
  • Understand that time spent with screens means less time being active and social. “Excessive media use has been associated with obesity, lack of sleep, school problems, aggression and other behavior issues.”
  • Parents must consider themselves media models by thinking about their own media habits in terms of time and content.
  • Screen time should be limited to less than one or two hours per day, and for kids under 2, discourage screen media exposure. Given the numbers from the infographic (opens in a new window) you’ll see below, that may be hard to do!

Second, CommonSense Media (opens in a new window) summarized their findings from a series of surveys designed to understand the media environment for kids ages 8 and under. In a concise infographic (opens in a new window) we see several trends:

  • Traditional screen time is down, but mobile screen time is up.
  • Mobile is king. More kids have access to mobile devices, and on these devices kids are likely to play games, use apps, or watch video or TV.
  • Mobile may also mean more reading! Of the kids using a mobile device, the percent of kids who use it to read rose from 4% in 2011 to 30% in 2013. Hooray!
  • The digital divide between lower-income families and higher-income families still exists, although access has risen for lower-income families.

Here at Reading Rockets, we offer up Children and Digital Media: Rethinking Parent Roles in which we provide guidance in two areas in which technology can provide a good literacy boost. This includes exposure to new words and learning more about interesting topics. We encourage parents to think about themselves as “media mentors” and to be an active participant in your child’s media use.

About the Author

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Publication Date
November 5, 2013