Here’s what the American Academy of Pediatrics says about screen time for kids:
children between 2 and 5 should be limited to “one hour a day of high-quality programming”
infants between 18 and 24 months can have screen time so long as it’s high quality and with a caregiver
babies shouldn’t be exposed to screen other than only video chat
Andrew Przybylski of the Oxford Institute of the Internet thinks that’s way off base. In a controversial new study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry he and colleagues don’t just swipe at the predominant thinking that kids should be exposed to as little screen time as possible—they argue that moderate screen time is actually good for kids.
The study set out to test two ideas. “The first was to test if there were ‘optimal’ levels of screen time in young people,” Przybylski said via email. “The second was to look for a critical value, or tipping point, at which screen engagement was significantly related to well-being outcomes.”
Przybylski, along with his colleagues, found “modest positive relations” when kids used devices and/or watched television for up to two hours a day. Contrary to medical recommendations, the team reported that kids would need to be using screens “for more than five hours a day before parents would notice any differences in their kids.”
The study’s findings are based on data from more than 35,000 American children and caregivers and reported by the National Survey of Children’s Health via the US Census Bureau between June 2016 and February 2017. Pszybylski’s says his analysis suggests that children who are using a digital device—a television, video game console, tablet, laptop, smartphone, or any other gadget with a screen—have better social and emotional skills than kids who don’t use technology.
The research overturns dominant thinking about screen time, which has overwhelmingly pointed to worrisome increases in rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies as proof of the negative effects of screen time on kids.