The best ways to manage your child’s use of media & screen time

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MILWAUKEE -- The rules have been relaxed. Our child development expert, Jessica Lahner of Carroll University,  joins Real Milwaukee with the recently revamped screen time guild-lines for kids.

The American Academic of Pediatrics (AAP) recently announced an update of their 'no screen time before 2' guidelines

  • Modified recommendations for all children
  • Reflects new research and the reality that children`s worlds are surrounded by media

Almost all children ages 0-4 have used a mobile device. Most 2-year-olds use on a daily basis.
Statistics stand regardless of family SES.

18 months and younger: Still no screens

  • Video chat (FaceTime) okay as long an adult is in room facilitating the interaction
  • Why no screens?
  • Youngest kids need social interaction with real people to learn.
  • Especially true in regards to language acquisition.


  • Laboratory studies demonstrate that 10-month old babies can learn a second anguage when interacting with a person speaking that new language.
  • However, when the exact same instruction for exact same amount of time is provided via video or audio, no learning takes place whatsoever.
  • Our 'social brain' needs to be activated when learning at this age.

15 months -2 years.: Only high-quality media with adult interaction/support

  • Learning is more likely to take place when caregiver helps facilitate learning
  • Caregiver serves as 'interpreter' of the experience
  • Focuses attention to important concepts
  • Helps young children separate fantasy from reality
  • Screen itself isn`t a teacher

2-5 years: 1 hr./ day of high-quality media

  • Researcher suggests that preschooler can learn via high quality media (PBS, Workshop)
  • Quality content is important
  • Low quality viewing is associated with lower cognitive functioning
  • When those children are then exposed to primarily high quality content, they make cognitive gains
  • Thus, if TV is on most of the time with children in the house, research suggests watching PBS or other high-quality television
  • AAP reports: Most apps in 'educational' category have little educational value
  • Kids are programmed to respond to novel stimuli. The 'bells and whistles' in many apps keep children entertained, but they often distract from what the app intends children to learn
  • See for high quality choices in apps, TV