Is There a Healthy “Media Diet” for Babies?

Today’s infants and toddlers are born into a world of digital gadgets. Recent research says:
  • On average, children from birth to 23 months old are watching 55 minutes of TV a day, and 2- to 4-year-olds are watching 90 minutes a day.
  • Use of mobile media starts young: More than a third (38%) of all children less than 2 years old have now used a mobile device for any media activity compared to 10% 2 years ago. Among 2- to 4-year- olds, the rate has grown from 39% to 80%; and among 5- to 8-year-olds, mobile media usage has risen from 52% to 83%.
  • Smartphones are the most frequently used device among children 8 years old and younger; 51% have used smartphones for a media activity, although tablets are close behind at 44%.

Despite these statistics, no research shows when children younger than 2 years old use these devices independently it enhances their development.  Instead the many studies on the impact of TV watching suggest potential damaging effects on children’s attention, learning, sleep, and overall health. That being said, research also suggests that screen media can become tools for learning if both content and context are taken into consideration.

How can parents use science to inform their decisions about the role media will play in the lives of their babies? In a new article, Screen Sense: Setting the Record Straight, authors Claire Lerner, LCSW, ZERO TO THREE and Rachel Barr, PhD, Department of Psychology and Director of Georgetown Early Learning Project at Georgetown University, offer research-based guidelines for screen use for children under 3 years. Download the full article on the ZERO TO THREE website where, in addition to Screen Sense, you will find a summary of the key findings, tips for how to use screen media with children under 3, and an infographic about 5 common misconceptions related to children and screen media.






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