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New Screentime Guidelines from the AAP 2016

The AAP released their new media policy statement on October 21, 2016.
The AAP released their new media policy statement on October 21, 2016.

The big news that rounded out the week was the recent media guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Perhaps not so much of a surprise, the recommendation for no screentime before the age of 2 years-old was adjusted. The initial guidelines, published in 1999, have been the topic of many debates as various forms of digital media have been emerging, many of which provide educational benefits compared to the more traditional screens described in the report. Some of the health consequences mentioned in the report, specifically for school-age children, tackles media usage and its relationship with sleeplessness and adolescent obesity.

The new guidelines suggest that children under 18 months should not be exposed to screens, with the exception of the video chat format. Since many families rely on this form of technology to stay in touch, it’s no surprise that a need for human connections and involvement should be a part of a child’s media diet. In fact, many of the suggestions youth librarians have been advocating for in past years are echoed in the AAP’s recommendations. No doubt there will be additional voices adding to the conversation, but the view outlined in ALSC’s Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth urges parents and caregivers to take an active role in the media consumption of youth. Family Empowerment seems to be the focus of many voices in the conversation, and families should have a more active role in their media practices and discern what is best for each and every child.

In a library where we offer circulating tech, app recommendations, and mounted devices, grown-ups are still eager for guidance on the media choices they make for their families. Librarians are poised as non-judgemental educators who offer valuable resources, but also understand the challenges of parenthood and that everything is not “one size fits all.” The same way we offer early literacy resources to parents and caregivers, we are still invested in the growth and development of all children.

As more discussions unfold after the most recent recommedations, you can learn more from a panel of educators that the AAP brought together, including representatives from the Sesame Workshop and Common Sense media.

What are your thoughts about the new AAP guidelines? Were you surprised by the new suggestions?

Claire Moore is the Head of Children and Teen Services at Darien Library in Darien, CT. She can be reached at

Visit the Digital Media Resources page to find out more about navigating your way through the evolving digital landscape.

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