October 30, 2016

New Media Plan Toolkit Available for Parents on HealthyChildren.org

Corinn Cross, MD FAAP
Pacific Palisades, CA
Council on Communications and Media Executive Committee

The AAP’s Council on Communications and Media has two new policy statements, Media and Young Minds and Media Use in School-Aged Children and Adolescents” as well as a corresponding Technical Report, Children and Adolescents and Digital Media,” out in the November issue of PEDIATRICS. These statements outline the changing relationship children and teens have with media. While the policy statements allow for us to discuss what we know and map out what still needs to be researched, the toolkit on HealthyChildren.org gives pediatricians and families the guidance and tools they need to parent, now.

Media has become ubiquitous in our daily lives. For children and adolescents, this includes school time, free time and homework time. Media is used for communication, education and recreation. The policy statements and technical report outline something that many parents have realized -- the 2 hour limit just isn’t enough advice. Screen use is so nuanced and weaved into our day that parents need more guidance. 

As busy pediatricians, we don’t often have the time to delve into media use in our office visits but recommending parents visit the website and create a Family Media Use Plan is something we can find the time to do. Creating a Family Media Use Plan is an important step in helping parents realize that they can, and should, still “parent” their children’s online life and be aware of, and hopefully approve of, their online and media choices.  The toolkit discusses screen free zones and times, device curfews and where devices should charge overnight. It talks about displacement and the need to maintain a healthy balance, which includes an appropriate number of hours of sleep for age as well as 1 hour of physical activity a day. Parents are encouraged to co-play, and co-view media with their children and to research apps and shows through sites like Common Sense Media so that they can be aware of content and age appropriateness. The toolkit introduces the ideas of diversifying media experiences and encourages parents to think about what their family’s values are and to ensure that their child or adolescent’s media experiences are inline with those values. 

Many parents feel overwhelmed when it comes to parenting, device use and media choices. The online resource gives parents concrete tools to navigate this new area of parenting. 

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