No, the changes in the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics does not mean that you can just drop your 12 month old in front of the television.

There’s a pretty big asterisk in their recommendation.

Most of the buzz on the appointment has focused on how it seems to be OK now for children younger than two years to have some screen exposure. This is probably not the message that the Academy wanted to get out.

First, it still recommended no screen time prior to 18 months (with an exception for video chatting, but it’s unclear if that benefits them). After that, they have loosened up on the restriction, given that there is limited evidence that some educational videos may help develop vocabulary.

The big asterisk, though, is that the AAP is recommending that you watch TV with your child.

Shocking, right? Here you were hoping to feel comfortable using screens as a digital babysitter. Part of the power of these videos is the interaction that you can have with your child with them. It’s why good educational programs like Sesame Street are written both for kids and adults. If you can talk about what you are seeing and share what engages you, your child will grow from the experience. The interactions are what can make digital media and screen time incredibly powerful.

While the AAP guidance particularly focuses on young children, we may all want to consider setting some rules around our own screen time. The AAP suggests developing a family media plan with rules and guidance for your entire family around interacting digital media (e.g. my family has a no phones at the dinner table rule).

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