Is Screen Time Bad for Toddlers?

In today’s society, there is no avoiding technology. With smart phones and tablets constantly at our fingertips, it’s easy to wonder how it affects the youngest of users.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, screen time is discouraged for children younger than two and screen time should be limited to two hours a day for those two and older. However, these guidelines may be changing due to the ever-changing world of technology.

Jacob Maciejewski, MD, a pediatrician with ProMedica Physicians, says that the “jury is still out” on whether or not screen time has a negative impact on developing toddlers. “It’s just another environment for children to interact in; a tool to use in everyday life.”

Dr. Maciejewski stresses how important parent interaction is and that screen time should not be used as a babysitter. “It’s an avenue for parents to interact with their children. Parent involvement allows for a teaching opportunity for the whole family,” he says.

“There are apps available that are amazing. There are educational apps that didn’t exist five to 10 years ago,” says Dr. Maciejewski. Because there is such an overwhelming amount of apps available to children, parents are urged to check out www.commonsensemedia.org to find reviews and ratings. “It’s a nice tool to determine what’s good and the age appropriateness of the app,” he says.

The speed of a show may also make a difference in children’s screen time experience, but Dr. Maciejewski explains that it’s undetermined if the pace has any effect on developmental delays or the development of ADHD in children. “A faster show, such as Spongebob Squarepants, doesn’t allow for two-way conversation, and two-way conversation is important,” he explains. “Slower shows, such as Bubble Guppies or Little Einsteins, try to interact or engage children into a conversation. It has matching and sorting as opposed to just talking.”

Dr. Maciejewski recommends only up to 30 minutes of screen time if a child is under two years old. If a child is under one, there is no need for them to look at a device. “Their skills are not there yet,” he explains.

Dr. Maciejewski also recommends the following guidelines:

  • No screen time during dinner
  • No monitors in the bedroom
  • No screen time one hour before bed time

The full recommendations listed by the American Academy of Pediatrics can be found here. 

How do you manage screen time with your children? Let us know in the comments below.

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