Still, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time (with the exception of video chatting via apps like FaceTime or Google Duo) until your child is at least 18 months. Then, between 18 to 24 months, the priority should be on minimal introduction of high-quality programming watched together. (Think Sesame Street or Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.) After that, from ages 2 to 5,the AAP suggests one hour of content a day. When kids are 6 and older, parents can establish healthy screen-time guidelines with their child.
“It’s important to try to limit screen time from the start,” says Jay Berger, M.D., the chair of pediatrics at ProHealth. “Still, as parents we know that when our children are cranky or bored, the quick fix is to hand them a phone. However, investing five to ten minutes to get your children engaged in activities like coloring, a puzzle or reading a book together sets a pattern. From there, the seeds you plant will blossom.”
As for the impact on development? The AAP outlines that problems start when television watching “displaces physical activity, hands-on exploration and face-to-face social interaction in the real world, which is critical to learning. Too much screen time can also harm the amount and quality of sleep.” In other words, if the TV is doubling as a babysitter for your toddler and you’re not actively deciding what and how much they watch, it could create problems down the road. Dr. Berger adds: “Screens are not all evil and can provide some productive education and entertainment. But you want to teach your children that there are myriad activities at their fingertips that don’t require a battery.”