Screens for Toddlers? When & How

“Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are now growing up in environments saturated with a variety of traditional and new technologies, which they are adopting at increasing rates. Although there has been much hope for the educational potential of interactive media for young children, accompanied by fears about their overuse during this crucial period of rapid brain development, research in this area still remains limited. A policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reviews the existing literature on television, videos, and mobile/interactive technologies; their potential for educational benefit; and related health concerns for young children (0 to 5 years of age).”

Key Take-Aways for Families

  • Avoid digital media use (except video-chatting) in children younger than 18 to 24 months. “Because of their immature symbolic, memory, and attentional skills, infants and toddlers cannot learn from traditional digital media as they do from interactions with caregivers…”
  • For children ages 18 to 24 months of age, if you want to introduce digital media, choose high-quality programming and use media together with your child. Avoid solo media use in this age group.
  • For children 2 to 5 years of age, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programming, view with children, help children understand what they are seeing, and help them apply what they learn to the world around them.

Key Take-Aways for Literacy Partners

  • Work with developmental psychologists and educators to create design interfaces that are appropriate to child developmental abilities, that are not distracting, and that promote shared parent–child media use and application of skills to the real world.
  • Cease making apps for children younger than 18 months until evidence of benefit is demonstrated.
  • Make high-quality products accessible and affordable to low-income families and in multiple languages.
  • Help parents to set limits by stopping auto-advance of videos as the default setting. Develop systems embedded in devices that can help parents monitor and limit media use.

Click here for the full AAP policy statement.

Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation promotes family engagement around reading by providing children and caregivers with high-quality literacy resources and books. These resources include print materials and books for children.

To invest in our efforts to strengthen early literacy and build lifelong learners in Tennessee