This Is How Much Screen Children Under The Age Of Two Should Be Getting

The Canadian Paediatric Society released new guidelines around the topic for the first time in 14 years

We've all done it—you put Paw Patrol on the iPad "just for five minutes" to occupy baby while you're getting ready/doing the laundry/cooking/cleaning/multitasking like a boss.

There's absolutely no judgement, here. Well, not from us at least. 

For the first time in 14 years, the Canadian Paediatric Society has released their position on the hot topic of screen time for children five and younger, with a set of new guidelines. 

For reference, 'Screen time' refers to "time spent with any screen, including smartphones, tablets, television, video games, computers or wearable technology."

The results are in, and it's not looking pretty for any parents who've ever given their young kids basically any screen time during the day. For children aged two to five, they recommend limiting screen time to a very low one hour a day.

But perhaps more shocking is the recommended daily allowance for children under the age of two. 

None. Zero. Zip. Nada. 

The reasoning? Children younger than five need active play and quality family time. Parents are urged to power down their devices during time spent with their kids and are advised not to use their phones as a distraction or reward for young children. 

There are no proven benefits for babies and toddlers who are exposed to media (in fact, there may even be developmental risks). Face-to-face interaction is how young children learn best, and with minimized screen time for everyone, there's far more time for this.

But since we live in 2017—and not 1957—where technology and devices are a reality, it's not so simple. So, how to we control it? The Canadian Paediatric Society has come up with the four "M's" to help you get a handle on things:

Minimize screen time:

  • Screen time for children under 2 years old is not recommended.
  • For children 2 to 5 years, limit routine or regular screen time to under 1 hour per day.
  • Ensure that sedentary screen time is not a routine part of child care for children younger than 5 years old.
  • Maintain daily ‘screen-free’ times, especially for family meals and book-sharing.
  • Avoid screens for at least one hour before bedtime, given the potential for melatonin-suppressing effects.

Mitigate (reduce) the risks associated with screen time:

  • Be present and engaged when screens are used and, whenever possible, co-view with children.
  • Be aware of content and prioritize educational, age-appropriate and interactive programming.
  • Use parenting strategies that teach self-regulation, calming and limit-setting.

As a family, be mindful about the use of screen time:

  • Conduct a self-assessment of current screen habits and develop a family media plan for when, how and where screens may (and may not) be used.
  • Help children recognize and question advertising messages, stereotyping and other problematic content.
  • Remember: Too much screen time means lost opportunities for teaching and learning.
  • Be reassured that there is no evidence to support introducing technology at an early age.

Adults should model healthy screen use:

  • Choose healthy alternatives, such as reading, outdoor play and creative, hands-on activities.
  • Turn off their devices at home during family time.
  • Turn off screens when not in use and avoid background TV.

For more information, check out the guidelines on their website

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