Are Screen Time Guidelines For Children Too Strict?

Are Screen Time Guidelines For Children Too Strict?

In guidelines produced last year, parents were advised to limit screen time to one to two hours a day for children between the ages of two and five years. New research suggests these recommendations aren’t producing the desired psychological benefits, and that the recommendations are unreasonably strict. But given how much we still don’t know about the effects of excessive screen use on young children, there’s still reason for concern.

In last year’s report, the AAP admitted that a one-size-fits-all approach is not the best strategy for parents when deciding how to limit their children’s screen use. The AAP said children under the age of 18 months should probably avoid screens altogether (except apps like Skype and FaceTime), and that kids between the age of two and five years should have their digital screen use limited to about one to two hours daily. At the same time, only “high-quality programming” should be viewed, and preferably with parents present. These restrictions, stated the AAP authors, would be good for the psychological wellbeing of young children.

New research published in the science journal Child Development now challenges these assumptions, stating that the existing guidelines aren’t producing the desired results. At least not on the psychological side of things.

The new study, led by Oxford University’s Andrew Przybylski and Cardiff University’s Netta Weinstein, assessed the impact of screen time on children aged two to five. Przybylski and Weinstein talked to nearly 20,000 parents over the phone, asking them how much screen time their kids were getting and about general wellbeing, which was measured in terms of caregiver attachment, emotional resilience, curiosity, and mood.

Excessive screen time, the researchers observed, was not having a particularly negative effect on the kids. “Evidence did not support implementing limits (Child Development]