Best Practices in Screen Media

"...the screen should be the tool, not the teacher."

Can kids learn from screens? How much should kids watch? How old should they be? What kind of content is best?

Those are some of the most common questions Sarah Roseberry Lytle, director of the I-LABS outreach team, hears from parents and caregivers regarding the role of digital media in young children’s lives. And the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation discouraging screen time for children under age 2 fuels public interest in screen time and children.

“Whether it’s an iPad, phone, television or tablet, more and more children use electronic devices and their caregivers want to know how to guide their children’s use of media,” said Lytle, an expert in how children can learn from screen media.

She will discuss best practices in screen media at the American Academy of Pediatrics Screen Media Conference, to be held May 2-3 in Chicago.

Her suggestions include:
- Look for content that is engaging and fosters back and forth social interactions that help drive language development,
- Avoid TV as background noise, because it can reduce conversations between parents and children,
- Join your child when watching TV and use it as a chance to talk with your kiddo about what you’re watching.

As for which shows to watch, here are Lytle’s go-to websites for quality media created for children:

“At a very fundamental level, we know that children learn from other humans. Screens can facilitate wonderful interactions between caregivers and children, but the screen should be the tool, not the teacher,” Lytle said.