Yup, that's right. We're actually trying to follow the 'no screen time before 2' advice.
Before I go any further, I would like to emphasize that I am not judging any family that allows their babies to watch TV (or play games, or whatever) for any length of time. This post is about exploring our attempt at avoiding it because doing so felt right for us. I know there are many who find screen time tremendously helpful and/or educational!
This PBS article does a good job of summarizing the research related to television and children under 3. It starts with some startling statistics that show how many infants and toddlers are exposed to television despite warnings against it (I haven't found anyone I know that is doing what we are). But it then points out that there has been surprisingly little research done into the actual effects of TV. Unsurprisingly, research does show that the role of a caregiver in watching programs is even more important than the content itself.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a statement in 1999 that included this:
Pediatricians should urge parents to avoid television viewing for children under the age of 2 years. Although certain television programs may be promoted to this age group, research on early brain development shows that babies and toddlers have a critical need for direct interactions with parents and other significant care givers (eg, child care providers) for healthy brain growth and the development of appropriate social, emotional, and cognitive skills. Therefore, exposing such young children to television programs should be discouraged.In 2011, the AAP released a more modern statement. As discussed in The New York Times:
The recommendation, announced at the group’s annual convention in Boston, is less stringent than its first such warning, in 1999, which called on parents of young children to all but ban television watching for children under 2 and to fill out a “media history” for doctor’s office visits. But it also makes clear that there is no such thing as an educational program for such young children, and that leaving the TV on as background noise, as many households do, distracts both children and adults.Interestingly, the less strict recommendations were made because many people thought the all-out ban was all but impossible to follow:
The recommendations are an attempt to be more realistic, given that, between TVs, computers, iPads and smartphones, households may have 10 or more screens.We have multiple devices in our house (though probably not 10), but we have an advantage. We don't watch TV, and though we really enjoy playing games and watching movies, we don't have much opportunity for it these days. Thus, for us, an all-out ban is feasible.
And that's what we're going for: an all-out ban on screen time. My only exception is that I don't mind if she sees me browsing or emailing, so long as there are no videos on the screen. Our choice is validated anytime she does see a video accidentally: she turns into a zombie and just stares at it. If a TV is on nearby, you can hardly stop her from turning her head around toward it. That makes me uncomfortable.
I'm not sure if we'll last all the way until 2, but we'll do our best. And when the time comes, I have to admit that I am very much looking forward to playing some fun kid-friendly Kinect games.