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I know AAP recommends no screen time below 2 years, and we try to follow that. Do these count as screen time for my 15 month old son?

  • We take a selfie, or a regular photo of him and he comes to check out the photo on the screen.
  • Video call with relatives/ watching a short video of himself on the phone
  • Checking out my laptop screen as I work, for not longer than 5 mins. (Screens are mostly boring, its just code or text, no fast moving frames)
  • He plays with our phones sometimes while they're locked. My phone has nothing but numbers on lock screen. My husband's phone has notifications that go up and down on dragging, which he has figured out. We don't use the phones, even locked, as distractions or baby sitters. We're right there with him.
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I think you are over-thinking this.

The concern with screen time is not that it is actively harmful, but it takes children away from other things which would be more beneficial, including physical exercise, interaction with people, and learning to manipulate stuff in the real world. Under 2 years the (very limited) evidence is that children can't really understand or learn from what is happening on the screen, so screen time is basically dead time as far as mental development is concerned.

However 2 years is a guideline, not a hard limit, and children vary. Your son sees you using devices and wants to emulate you, which is actually something to encourage. The big differentiator seems to be parental interaction, so stuff you do together that involves a screen is probably just as good as stuff you do together without a screen.

There is an article here by the American Psychological Association which summarises what we know about this (or at least, what we knew a year ago; research is ongoing).

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  • +1. I bolded the takeaway, as it's very important to understand. (I hope that's ok. Feel free to revert if it seems too much.) Everything I've read agrees with this (with the exception of dead time.) When I needed a break from more active parenting, my 10 month old and I would watch Sesame Street together, him on my lap, and I would narrate what was going on ("Look at that pig! That's a big, happy, very muddy pig!") That was before the concept of "screen time", as we didn't have computers (!!!) back then. But we did have videos, and that was counted as 'screen time'. – anongoodnurse Apr 16 at 13:34
  • Thats fine thanks. – Paul Johnson Apr 16 at 13:48

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