Media Use for Children Under Age 2 Discouraged

Oct 21, 2011

By Stephanie Schmit

Many children spend long hours in child care. Understanding how children spend time in care settings is important for parents, policymakers and children's development. Crucial to children's proper development is engaging in personal interactions to help build relationships with others as CLASP outlines in its policy recommendations in the Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care Project. To maximize opportunities for personal interactions and healthy child development, it's key to limit or eliminate screen time and media use for children under 2 years of age, both at home and in child care settings. 

A 2009 study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) examined media use by young children in child care settings and found that infants and toddlers in home-based settings were more likely to view television programming than infant and toddlers in center-based care. In center-based care, none of the programs interviewed for the study allowed television viewing for infants, compared with 12 percent of home-based centers.  For toddlers, 12 percent of center-based programs allowed television viewing, while over half of home-based programs allowed toddlers to watch television.

The AAP has released a new policy statement discouraging media use by children younger than 2, pointing to potential negative impacts for very young children exposed to media like televisions. This study echoes an earlier policy statement released by the AAP in 1999, which suggested that pediatricians discourage parents from using media outlets with children under the age of 2. Based on research findings, the AAP believes there are potentially more negative than positive effects for these children, including language delays, obesity, sleep issues, and aggressive behavior.  The recent statement provides updated research findings that support both the potential adverse impacts when children view media as well as when parents use media in the child's presence. The policy statement also addresses the lack of evidence that supports the educational or developmental benefits of media use for these infants and toddlers.

Establishing policies that promote children's healthy development and follow the AAP's recommendations should be a priority for practitioners and policymakers. To learn more about CLASP's policy recommendations, visit our Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care Project.  

site by Trilogy Interactive