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Panel discussion on AAP media use policies unites leaders from various fields :

November 30, 2016

The new AAP media use recommendations resonated with outside experts who were part of a panel discussion held before the Pediatrics for the 21st Century program at the AAP National Conference & Exhibition.

“Parents listen to their pediatricians,” said Stanford University Professor Jim Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that promotes safe technology and media for children through education and advocacy. The new AAP recommendations — outlined in two policies, a technical report and Family Media Plan — are realistic and practical, he said, adding that he liked the focus on human connectedness as well as parent empowerment.

But parents’ overuse of media was mentioned as a growing concern.

Steyer said a new Common Sense Media program called Device-Free Dinner seeks to help all family members put away their electronics at mealtime, a concept supported in the AAP guidance.

Another panelist was Jeffrey D. Dunn, president and CEO of Sesame Workshop, a nonprofit that produces educational children’s programs, including “Sesame Street.” Research shows children who watch “Sesame Street” do better in school and have stronger social and emotional skills, Dunn said. “We firmly believe media can have a powerful impact.”

“We try to throw in fun, too,” Dunn added, noting humor goes a long way. The final evaluation, he said, is left to “the real experts — the kids themselves.”

Media’s potential for enriching children’s lives was echoed by panelist Libby Doggett, U.S. Department of Education (DOE) deputy assistant secretary for policy and early learning. The tools of technology are especially important to increase low-income children’s access to educational content, Doggett said.

She provided highlights of a new policy brief that guides families and early childhood educators on using technology with young children (see resources). The brief, developed by the DOE and Department of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Academy, reinforces the need for interaction and co-viewing technology with children, which also can help strengthen relationships.

“There are 36 million children between birth and 8,” Doggett said. “We want to be sure good decisions are being made.”

The authors of the two new AAP policy statements Jenny Radesky, M.D., FAAP, and Megan A. Moreno, M.D., M.S.Ed., M.P.H., FAAP, also were part of the panel.

David L. Hill, M.D., FAAP, chair of the AAP Council on Communications and Media Executive Committee, served as moderator.

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