Time to Take the TV Remote Away From Your Toddler

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Bubble Guppies, Super Why!, Caillou: There are some pretty compelling shows for toddlers these days. But they shouldn’t be watching any of it, say pediatricians. Alarmingly, a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics suggests that average screen time in children under two has more than doubled in the United States since 1997. And despite the dawn of iPads and Kindles, it’s primarily on the old-fashioned TV screen.

Previous research has linked excessive screen time in young kids to developmental delays, most likely because it decreases the amount of interaction between parents and children. It also is associated with an increased risk of childhood obesity and sleep problems. In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued the following recommendations:

  • Kids under 18 months should avoid screens of any kind.
  • Toddlers 18 months to 2 years should watch only programming geared towards young children with a parent or caregiver.
  • Screen time should be limited to one hour or less per day in kids ages 2 to 5.

This study, led by a researcher at Florida International University in Greater Miami, involved data from the Child Development Supplement Panel Study of Income Dynamics conducted at the University of Michigan between 1997 and 2014. Results show that average screen time in children younger than 2 years rose from 1.32 hours in 1997 to 3.05 hours in 2014.