Parents may please take note that it is just not all right to hand your child a smartphone to calm him/her down at home even if it helps keep peace in the house, according to the new guidelines released by the American Academy of Pediatrics on Friday. Although there are specific instances when using digital media as a soothing tool is helpful, such as on airplanes or during medical procedures, parents should avoid using media as the only way to calm down children, the authors noted.
Using devices as a common soothing strategy may limit children’s ability to regulate their own emotions, said one of the lead authors of the statement Jenny Radesky from University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in the US.
“Digital media has become an inevitable part of childhood for many infants, toddlers and preschoolers, but research is limited on how this affects their development,” Radesky noted.
“What we do know is that early childhood is a time of rapid brain development, when children need time to play, sleep, learn to handle emotions, and build relationships. Research still suggests that excessive media use can get in the way of these important activities. Our statement highlights ways families and pediatricians can help manage a healthy balance,” Radesky noted.
For children aged two to five years, media should be limited to one hour a day, the statement said, and it should involve high-quality programming or something parents and kids can view or engage with together. With the exception of video-chatting, digital media should also be avoided in children younger than 18 months old, the authors noted.
Too much time using digital media in the wrong way is linked to children’s quality of sleep, child development and physical health, according to the guidelines.