Parents, read on. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently set new guidelines for the digital media exposure of children. The recommendation is laid down by thousands of paediatricians who met at a national conference in San Francisco last week. There were about 10,000 doctors who discussed many points including cyberbullying, social media, and screen time–all involving the children.

The old limit was two hours. Kids ages two and above should not be glued to the TV for over two hours. That’s too short or too much depending on how the adults and the kids are used to. Before, screen time includes use of computer for homework but the new guidelines said that it’s not counted.

The Children and Adolescents and Digital Media Technical Report indicated that those within the 2 to 5 age bracket, it should only be one hour each day. Those school aged childred (6 and above), parents must monitor usage and set restrictions. Kids already consume different types of digital media but as much as possible, those aged 18 months (1.5 years) and below should not be exposed at all according to the academy.

The ‘no screen time’ challenge is ideal. It’s quite a difficult especially for busy parents but that will be beneficial for the babies and help in parent-child connections and their brain development. It’s important that screen activity and noise are kept to a minimum because they can be distracting for any child.

Truth is, connection between a parent and a child can be interrupted if there’s too much screen time. Some children can feel deprived if they are “neglected in favor of digital media”. We all know this but here’s a reminder for us adults: the TV is not a babysitter. Better read a book or talk to a child.

It’s important that parents unplug and spend quality playtime with their children. If there’s exposure, limit the time and check the type of media and the content being consumed. Still highly recommended is ‘Sesame Street’ which is already a classic. It doesn’t have much advertisements so it’s good.

Other screen time activities like Facetime or Skype is encouraged because they help create a healthy development and environment for the kids especially if they are always communicating with their family and relatives.

Those ages 6 years and above, it’s a must that parents limit digital media and that productive time must be prioritized. Productive time includes “school, homework time, at least one hour of physical activity, social contact and sleep — which is anywhere from eight to 12 hours for kids” as indicated in the report.

It’s reiterated that parents should be the media mentor of their children, “teaching them how to use it as a tool to create, connect and learn.” In this day and age when everyone, teens and kids included, have access to a lot of things but there must be a limit. It’s not only the children but also the parents that must limit digital media consumption because there are too many risks

Media, content, and parenting are all changing. It’s really up to the parents and adults to be responsible in setting the amount of time and what kind of stuff are being consumed by everyone. Parents especially are in the position to teach the children responsible navigation, use, and behavior all the time.

Listed below are some tips for a healthy media consumption:

• identify media-free times together and media-free locations at home
• devices off the dinner table
• have in-person conversations and ace-to-face interactions
• keep tech devices out of the bedroom, place computers in the living room

Check out the Family Media Plan tool for more tips and recommendations.