What Parents Should Know About Screen Time for Babies and Toddlers

Salt Lake City, UT — (ReleaseWire) — 03/03/2022 — Screens and media are everywhere and can be a powerful tool for a child’s learning and play. The relationship with screens and screen time has also changed drastically for families during the pandemic, but Kaitlin Carpenter, MD, a pediatrician with Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, says it is still important to set some limits for young family members.

“Parents really do have to think about what’s the best way to use media and how to keep our kids safe and healthy,” said Dr. Carpenter. Luckily, she says, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued several recommendations regarding screen time for children:

– Under 18 months: Avoid screen time other than video-chat.

– 18-24 months: Limit screen time to high-quality programming.

– Over 2 years old: Limit screen time to 1 hour per day of high-quality programming created for young children, like Sesame Street and other PBS shows like Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, Daniel Tiger, and Bluey.

Dr. Carpenter goes on to council parents to watch and discuss shows with their child. “They can be great ways for you and your child to learn together,” she said.

The most powerful thing parents can do is be a “media mentor” and show children how to appropriately interact with phones, tablets, and TVs.

– Co-watch shows and videos or co-play games with kids.

– Try to avoid constant use of mobile phones around children. Parents or caregivers are a child’s best role model. If a caregiver is constantly on their phone, a child will follow that example.

– Designate times and places that are phone- or screen-free, like dinner time or bedtime.

– Like anything else in a child’s life, children do well with consistent limits. Encourage playtime up and away from screens after the limits are up.

It can be tempting to use media as an emotional pacifier (think crying toddler at the doctor’s office). “While that is a nice solution that can be used sometimes, try not to make it a habit,” said Dr. Carpenter. “Kids need to learn their own coping strategies โ€“ like a hug from mom or dad โ€“ or another way to channel those emotions.

Dr. Carpenter gives some additional ideas and AAP resources for families:

– When considering whether to get paper books or eBooks, choose paper books. Research has shown that children learn better and interact more with paper books.

– There seems to be a relationship between increased media use in young children and obesity, research has shown.

– Consider making a Media Use Plan with the family. Visit HealthyChildren.org/MediaUsePlan for tips.

– Learn about age-appropriate apps and game reviews at Commonsensemedia.org.

Kaitlin Carpenter, MD, a practicing pediatrician with Intermountain Healthcare’s Hillcrest Pediatrics and the Intermountain Medical Group.

About Intermountain Healthcare
Located in Utah, Idaho, and Nevada, Intermountain Healthcare is a nonprofit system of 25 hospitals, 225 clinics, the Intermountain Medical Group with some 2,700 employed physicians and advanced care practitioners, a health plans division called SelectHealth, Homecare, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs.

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Media Relations Contact

Jennifer Toomer-Cook
Media Relations
Intermountain Healthcare
Telephone: 1-801-662-6590
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Web: https://intermountainhealthcare.org/locations/hillcrest-pediatrics/