The American Academy of Pediatrics has done away with its longstanding recommendation to shield children under 2 years of age from televisions, computers, tablets or mobile devices.
In a policy statement published Friday, the influential group shifted its screen time guidelines, saying specific educational programming – such as offerings from Sesame Workshop and PBS – can be introduced to children ages 18 months to 24 months, but that parents should watch or use the media with their children to help them learn.
"Avoid solo media use in this age group," the group said.
The academy also recommended children under 18 months do not spend time in front of screens, yet provided one exception: video chatting.
"New evidence shows that infants and toddlers regularly engage in video chatting, but the same principles regarding need for parental support would apply in order for infants and toddlers to understand what they are seeing," the group said.
The "no screens under 2" recommendation was first set in 1999, and the academy has periodically updated its guidance to align with changing technology.
Evolution of the iPhone
Evolution of the iPhone
Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds up an Apple iPhone at the MacWorld Conference in San Francisco, Jan. 9, 2007. Apple Inc., on a tear with its popular iPod players and Macintosh computers, is expected to report strong quarterly results Wednesday. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Jeff Gamet, from the Internet magazine The Mac Observer, looks at the new Apple iPhone at MacWorld Conference and Expo in San Francisco, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2007. Apple Inc. is a tight ship when it comes to corporate secrets, regularly suing journalists and employees who leak data about upcoming products. Although few people outside of Apple's headquarters knew product specifications for the iPhone before its announcement, the device was widely anticipated. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
An advertisement for the upcoming iPhone is displayed in the Apple store in SoHo, Friday, June 22, 2007 in New York. The long anticipated gadget hits the market on June 29th. (AP Photo/Dima Gavrysh)
A television journalist holds the Apple iPhone, the only one given to a journalist in Los Angeles before it went on sale, as he interviews people waiting to buy the iPhone outside the Apple store at The Grove in Los Angeles, Friday, June 29, 2007. After six months of hype, thousands of people Friday will get their hands on the iPhone, the new cell phone that Apple Inc. is banking on to become its third core business next to its moneymaking iPod players and Macintosh computers. Customers were camped out at Apple and AT&T stores across the nation. The gadget, which combines the functions of a cell phone, iPod media player and wireless Web browser, will go on sale in the United States at 6 p.m. in each time zone. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
A customer holds a demonstration Apple iPhone during the release of the Apple product and the opening of a new Apple Store at Woodland Hills Mall in Tulsa, Okla., on Friday, June 29, 2007. More than 500 people waited in line. (AP Photo/David Crenshaw)
Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs announces the new Apple iPhone 3G during the keynote speech at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Monday, June 9, 2008. Jobs announced innovations to the Mac OS X Leopard operating system and an enhanced iPhone. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
An older Apple iPhone is shown next to an advertisement for the new iPhone 3G at an AT&T store in Palo Alto, Calif., Tuesday, July 8, 2008. To sustain the momentum of the original iPhone's success and keep fickle consumers and Wall Street happy, Apple Inc. needs a dramatic second act with the next generation of iPhones, which roll out Friday with faster Internet access and lower retail prices. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
A shop worker holds the new Apple iPhone 3GS in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, June 19, 2009. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Apple CEO Steve Jobs smiles as he uses the new iPhone 4 at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Monday, June 7, 2010, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Apple iPhone at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Monday, June 7, 2010 in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2011 file photo, Chris Cioban, manager of the Verizon store in Beachwood, Ohio, holds up an Apple iPhone 4G. Verizon Wireless, the nation's largest cellphone company, announced Tuesday, June 12, 2012, that is dropping nearly all of its phone plans in favor of pricing schemes that encourage consumers to connect their non-phone devices, like tablets and PCs, to Verizon's network. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)
Apple CEO Tim Cook during an introduction of the new iPhone 5 in San Francisco, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
People queue outside the Apple Store as the iPhone 5 mobile phones went on sale in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Friday Sept. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
In this photo taken Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, new plastic iPhones 5C are displayed during a media event held in Beijing, China. Last year, eager buyers in Beijing waited overnight in freezing weather to buy the iPhone 4S. Pressure to get it â and the profit to be made by reselling scarce phones â prompted some to pelt the store with eggs when Apple, worried about the size of the crowd, postponed opening. Just 18 months later, many Chinese gadget lovers responded with a shrug this week when Apple Inc. unveiled two new versions of the iPhone 5. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A customer examines a new iPhone 5s at the Nebraska Furniture Mart in Omaha, Neb., on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, the day the new iPhone 5c and 5s models go on sale. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Apple CEO Tim Cook discusses the new Apple Watch and iPhone 6 on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Two new iPhone 6 are photographed at the Apple store in the city centre of Munich, Germany, Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. A large crowd had gathered in front of the Apple store ahead of the offical launch of Apple's new iPhone. (AP Photo, dpa,Peter Kneffel)
FILE - In this Sept. 19, 2014 file photo, a customer looks at the screen size on the new iPhone 6 Plus while waiting in line to upgrade his iPhone at a Verizon Wireless store in Flowood, Miss. A newly-discovered glitch in Apple's software can cause iPhones to mysteriously shut down when they receive a certain text message. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)
Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus during an Apple media event in San Francisco, California on September 9, 2015. Apple unveiled its iPad Pro, saying the large-screen tablet has the power and capabilities to replace a laptop computer. AFP PHOTO/JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)
Discover More Like This
BACK TO SLIDE
As children reach ages 2 to 5 years, the recommendations are similar to when they are toddlers and encourage limiting screen time to one hour or less of high-quality programming. As children get older and become teens, the academy recommends parents set consistent limits on how much time their children can spend in front of a TV and other media devices, and that they also limit what kinds of things kids can watch or interact with.
Because the recommendations do not take a one-size-fits all approach, the group released a free online tool families can use to help them set some of these goals.
Parents also are encouraged to put down their smartphones when interacting with their children, and to help their kids get enough sleep and exercise.
"Families should proactively think about their children's media use and talk with children about it, because too much media use can mean that children don't have enough time during the day to play, study, talk or sleep," Dr. Jenny Radesky, a lead author of the policy statement for infants, toddlers and preschool children, said in a news release. "What's most important is that parents be their child's 'media mentor.' That means teaching them how to use it as a tool to create, connect and learn."
The academy additionally encouraged designating times, like during dinner, when media devices should not be present, and recommended against placing TVs, computers or smartphones in children's bedrooms. It also said screen time should be avoided one hour before bedtime.
Studies have shown that too much screen time can negatively affect sleep, contribute to obesity and depression, and have a negative impact on child development.
Further, as new technologies have become available, children have been confronted with sexting and new types of bullying, and the academy recommends parents regularly have conversations about these issues with their children.
The group also highlighted media's benefits, as it can allow students to collaborate on projects, provide support networks to people struggling with mental or physical ailments, and bring families together who are separated by distance.