We hear that the American Academy of Pediatrics is planning to consider new screentime guidelines for children at their annual conference this October. Currently, their position is that: “Children and teens should engage with entertainment media for no more than one or two hours per day, and that should be high-quality content. It is important for kids to spend time on outdoor play, reading, hobbies, and using their imaginations in free play. Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2. A child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.”
We hope that they will choose to maintain similar standards, but we’re asking parents to urge their children’s doctors to send a letter to the AAP to voice their support for the current standards.
Here’s what you can ask your child’s doctor either in person or via email:
We would be very grateful if you would consider sending the following letter, or a version of this letter, to the American Academy of Pediatricians regarding their plans to update their recommendations on maximum screen time for children at their October conference.
(Name of your child/ren) is/are being inundated with digital learning in school. We try to limit their screen time at home but are too often frustrated and overruled by school requirements and practices.
(add in a specific story about your child, if you have one)
We worry that, if the AAP steps back from its current recommendation of no screen time for children below age 2 and no more than 1-2 hours for older children, schools will feel free to turn even more of school time over to computers and online apps. We don’t believe that this is the best way for children to learn and grow, and research backs us up. (You can insert the link to PAA’s blog listing our new EdTech reports here: http://parentsacrossamerica.org/children-risk-paa-reports-detailing-dangers-edtech/
As our children’s doctor, we look to you for support in this important matter. Thanks for your consideration.
And here’s a sample letter for your doctor to use:
Sample letter for doctor:
To the American Academy of Pediatrics:
As a pediatrician, I have become increasingly concerned about the impact of the growing use of digital devices in public schools as well as for personal use. I understand that the AAP is in the process of revising its existing recommendations on screen time, which currently suggest none for children under age 2 and a 1 to 2 hour maximum for older children. I urge you to consider very carefully the consequences of loosening these guidelines.
Dangers to children’s health inherent in the misuse and/or overuse of digital devices include:
impaired brain development, concentration, learning and social skills;
delayed literacy skills;
increased anxiety, stress, fatigue, sleep disorders, depression, and behavior disorders;
short-term memory loss, headaches, dizziness, and myopia;
increased exposure to radiation;
symptoms of ADHD, bi-polar disorder, and depression;
altered reward systems in the brain; and
Today’s children are confronted with far more exposure to digital technology than they were when the AAP’s screen time recommendations were first announced. Trends in children’s mental, emotional and physical health demonstrate the negative impact of this increased exposure.
I believe that the AAP has a moral and ethical responsibility to continue its strong stand to protect children from the health effects of screen time. As a member of the AAP, I urge this organization to maintain its current reasonable guidelines, and consider adding:
stronger cautions to parents about monitoring their children’s use of digital devices and the growing exposure to these devices in school,
stronger recommendations to policy makers about providing better protections for children against overexposure to digital devices, and
stronger guidelines for pediatricians about what to look for and report in relation to the negative effects of excessive screen time and exposure to digital devices.