Did you hear that the American Academy of Pediatrics lifted its “no screens for kids under age 2” rule? Yes, it’s true! Does this mean that kids can have unlimited screen time now? In a word? No.
It can be confusing when respected organizations change long-held guidelines. But when the AAP set this standard, it was 1999. There were no smartphones or tablets. No Facetime or Skype. So, the policies were updated to reflect these developments in technology, not because the AAP’s previous position was unfounded.
Their new statement is in line with the joint statement the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media issued in 2012. It stated that if technology is used, it must be in the context of conversation and interactions with an adult. The AAP still says no screens at all are the best idea — with one notable exception: live video chat. Using video chat to communicate with faraway friends and relatives is beneficial for babies, as studies have shown that playing peek-a-boo with Grandma, even by Skype, provides emotional engagement.
That type of engagement is really the key, according to Danny LaBrecque, creator and host of “Treehouse,” a live web series for children. He describes the importance of connection rather than stimulation, noting that animated characters acting as if they can hear a child aren’t the same as a true human relationship-based interaction.
(“Treehouse” is live on Facebook on Saturday mornings, but videos of previous programs can be viewed in the video section of the Facebook page or here: https://www.youtube.com/user/DannyJoesTreeHouse)