American Academy Of Pediatrics Lifts ‘No Screens Under 2’ Rule

by Valerie Williams
Image via Shutterstock

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued new guidelines for screen time

Parents, we can all emerge from hiding now. Out of the darkness and into the light, blinking and stumbling towards the rising sun, because guess what? The “no screen time before age two” rule is no longer a thing and has been revised to something slightly more reasonable.

No more living a lie. Because you know none of us followed that shit anyway.

We have reason to rejoice thanks to a recent overhaul of screen time guidelines from our buddies at The American Academy of Pediatrics. The new guidelines focus more on who’s in the room with the child rather than what’s on the screen, with the recommendation of no screens at all still being ideal for kids under 18 months. But that doesn’t mean no screens.

Thank God.

The AAP says live video chat is fine for kids under 18 months, although they don’t cite any evidence that the little ones see much benefit from Skype sessions with grandma. In-person social interaction is still king, but of course, not always possible. Something’s better than nothing. They do note that infants as young as six months are emotionally engaged by playing games over video chat with someone they know.

Now, the more exciting part. Studies cited by the AAP say that for children aged 15 months to two years, new words can be learned from educational media if the parents are sitting with the child and repeating the words to them. NPR notes that those studies are small, but still. Learning! From TV!

They’re careful to state that the problem with screen time stems from a lack of interaction with people, where the screen time replaces it. Too much solo viewing of educational media has been tied to language delays in small children, rather than the boost viewing with an adult who reinforces the concepts can provide.

TLDR? The overall recommendation is changed from “no screen time at all” to “no solo media use.” And we’ve gotta say, that’s not really too helpful overall since most of the reason we employ screens with small kids is to catch a freaking break and let them zone out a bit.

But still. Something is better than nothing, and we can all stop living in the shadows now, at least a little bit. We no longer have to pretend we block out every screen from their precious eyes and can confidently allow them to use their Peppa Pig British accent at playgroup without turning six shades of red.

Like all things parenting, we have to follow our instincts and do what’s best for our families. The AAP says no solo media use? Meh. It’s hard to imagine a half hour each day of Rescue Bots is going to lead anyone toward a life of crime, but it’s good to impose some limits. Now, if you’re sick or have nine loads of laundry to fold or are just plain zonked, feel no guilt over the occasional screen time binge. The AAP isn’t in your house. They don’t know you.

Overall, this news is a bit of relief. Our world is jam-packed with screens and media to the point where shielding small children entirely is pretty much impossible unless you live off-grid. Take the information with a grain of salt and do what feels right. And if what feels right is two episodes of some dumb cartoon each morning so you can shower?

Lord knows we won’t judge you.