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How can I ensure responsible use of media to support my child’s development?

little boy watching TV

Key points:
1. Children aged 18-24 months can be exposed to high-quality children’s media with guidance.
2. Between ages 2-5, children can watch up to 90 minutes of high-quality children’s programs per day.
3. Use media with your child to strengthen your connection and aid them in making connections to real-life experiences.
4. Limit loud sounds and vivid colors on screens to prevent overwhelming young children.

In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics released an update on its guidelines for children’s exposure to screens and media. According to their recommendations, children between 18 and 24 months of age can be exposed to high-quality children’s media if you help them understand what they are seeing, and between 2 to 5 years old they can watch up to 90 minutes a day of high-quality children’s programs.


The organization Zero to Three has some important reflections on how to use technological media to support your kid’s learning and development, as well as their memory and attention skills. Here are some of the highlights:

  • When you and your child use media together, try to ask questions and talk about what you are seeing, both to strengthen the connection between you and your little one, and to help them make sense of the content.
  • Aid your child in connecting what you’ve seen together on a screen with real-life objects and situations. You can point out animals you recognize from a loved cartoon program, or activities you’ve seen on a tablet game.
  • Be careful not to overwhelm your child with loud sounds and vivid colors on a screen. Even if it’s just the TV playing on the background, this can be distracting for young children.
  • Avoid situations in which your child is having screen-time or using digital media without supervision.

Above all, the most important and nurturing experiences for your child are those they have in the real world with you. Kids learn through observation and trial-and-error. The things your child dynamically experiences with their senses will be the easiest to recall and learn from. When you use digital media alongside your child, try to use it in ways that foster your relationship.

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