Oh, screen time. How you vex us all as parents. The kiddos are all in for the “educational” programming that the experts say will help them to learn their ABCs (in English and 15 other languages, of course) and their 123s. But then a new journal article comes out saying that you should rethink how much time your little one spends in front of screens. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) just announced new recommendations for kids’ media use, and here’s what you need to know.

Mother with her son using a digital tablet

The Old

Way back when (2013), doctors recommended no media use at all for children under age two. The old recommendations told parents to limit the total amount of entertainment-based screen time to under two hours per day for children in preschool and up.

Under the old guidelines, your baby and young toddler would stay completely screen-free. That means those cute little cartoon apps on your phone, the baby-friendly YouTube videos on your tablet and the TV (of course the TV) were all major no-nos. As your tot moved into the pre-k years, the AAP said it was kind of sort of okay to use some screens. Your four-year-old watching 30 minutes of muppets speaking in Spanish? Sure. Your four-year-old watching Transformers roll out? Nope.

Mother and baby using tablet

The New

The major change that new media use guidelines makes has to do with toddlers. The AAP is still saying that children under age two shouldn’t tether themselves to a screen. But in some cases, a teeny tiny bit of media might be okay.

The new recommendations allow for children under 18 months to use screens — as long as it’s for video chatting. The idea here is that little Johnny’s FaceTime with Grandma is strictly social, allowing him to interact (face-to-face) with another human being. This obviously differs greatly from sitting in front of the TV passively watching animated animals act out.

And now for older toddlers — kids ages 18 to 24 months can now use media. Yeah, you may have already been doing this. According to the AAP’s recommendations, media use for this age group should stick to high-quality (read: educational) apps and programming. Along with favoring the edutainment aspect, the AAP’s recommendations say that parents should be (make that, need to be) present whenever young children use media.

As for the up to two hours of screen time that was okay way back in ’13, the new view says children ages two to five years old should only use media for one hour max. Again, this only includes high-caliber, parent-supervised programming.

WHEN TO GO Screen-Free

Your child’s screens aren’t the only ones subject to the AAP — parents can take a cue and cut back their usage as well. The APP recommends that you don’t use (or set a “do not disturb”) during all play-times, during meals and at least one hour before bedtime. The takeaway: Spend more quality time engaging with your little one IRL.

How much time does your child spend in front of a screen? Share your answer and tweet us @BritandCo !

(Photos via Getty)