Parents of toddlers and pre-kindergarten kids: do you let your kids watch TV? And what about using iPads? In the media-driven world of the 21st century, many children grow up with digital screens. These media are so ubiquitous – and, indeed, so useful for keeping children occupied – that it would be difficult to raise kids apart from them. Until recently, though, the official guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics have recommended the minimum possible screen time for children age 2 and under. In the modern world, this is logistically difficult.
Last month, the nonprofit research group Zero to Three released a set of guidelines much more attuned to the realities of the digital age. Their advice, deriving from studies conducted by the organization, outlines usage situations in which screen media can actually be beneficial for young children. The guidelines recommend that parents use screens collaboratively with their children, watching shows or playing games together. They further recommend that parents actively engage their children in conversation about what they are watching and encourage their children to make connections between the on-screen media and the real world.
You can read more of the story behind these guidelines, and the debate over early childhood screen media usage, at Slate.