The American Academy of Pediatrics has created two tools to help families with screen time issues.
- The Family Media Plan Creator
- A Media Time Calculator
Note: This is not an endorsement of either tool but merely an attempt to provide information, insight, and understanding of these two tools published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
These two tools can be accessed for free online. The Family Media Plan asks for the first names and ages of children in your household in order to generate a personalized media plan for your specific family. It then asks a series of questions in order to manipulate the PDF it will eventually generate for your family. The age ranges that it breaks out are 18-24 months, 2-5 years, 6-12 years and 13-18 years of age. The questions it asks of each family member are customized to their age range. For instance, for the 12-18-year-olds under “digital safety rules” it will include “Do not use phone while driving” and it suggests getting 8-10 hours of sleep. While the 2-5-year-old recommends that your child will have more time to “[play] dress-up or make-believe” and that they get 10-13 hours of sleep.
The process of generating a Family Media Plan for your family will only take a matter of minutes, it is completely free and will generate a downloadable PDF document that can be used as a discussion outline with your family.
In order to create the PDF from the website, you must register. You can then revisit the site and update the plan at any time in the future.
Creating Your Own Family Media Plan
The first step is to identify the members of your household that the plan will cover.
In the next step you identify the following:
- Screen-Free Zones – Where you select rooms or other areas where screens are not allowed (i.e. bedroom)
- Screen-Free Times – Where you identify times where screens are not allowed (i.e. mealtime)
- Device Curfews – Where you identify the location where the device will charge overnight
- Choose & Diversify Your Media – This allows you to specify some guidelines around what type of media is allowed and whether it can be viewed alone
- Balancing Online & Off-line Time – This creates a section in the document that starts with “By decreasing screen time, we will have more time for”. It then suggests a list of other activities you can add to your document and you can add your own activities not listed
- Manner Matter – is a section for 6 year-olds and older centered around proper social etiquette with screens in the presence of others
- Digital Citizenship – This area of the plan centers around privacy, bullying and receiving uncomfortable messages or images
- Safety First – Allows discussion with your children about how to protect themselves online
- Sleep & Exercise – Discusses recommendations around how much sleep each age group needs and focusing on exercise for older kids
A Sample Family Media Plan
A sample section of the plan for an 18-24-month-old child:
A sample section of the plan for a 2-5-year-old child:
A sample section of the plan for a 6-12-year-old child:
A sample section of the plan for a 13-18-year-old child:
Using the Media Time Calculator
The Media Time Calculator is a tool also published by the American Academy of Pediatrics that allows a parent to calculate the amount of time remaining in the day after the other various necessary uses of time have been filled with non-screen time activities. I put in a child for each age grouping provided, namely, 18-24 months, 2-5 years, 6-12 years and 13-18 years of age.
The following default time allocations were generated:
As you can see after identifying family members the default time allocations only allow for recommended sleep and physical activity times. It is then up to the user to begin filling in times for other necessary activities during a normal day. As you enter time for any other activity, the time available for screen time shrinks. After I had entered the amount of time (this is done by pressing the “+” and “-“ keys in the time block to add or subtract 30 minutes) for the other activities you can see that the screen time has dropped dramatically.
As you can see 12-18-year-old Phyllis with her school time, homework and other daily activities are left with only 1 hour of possible screen time on an average day.
This is a simple tool that might be helpful for parents looking to see a visual representation of where the hours in the day are being spent by children of various ages. It also points out, that at some point if screen time is going to increase, and other activities are fairly set then what suffers is sleep time. There are several studies that suggest this is the case.
Reviews of AAP Family Media Plan and Media Time Calculator
Other Family Media Plans
About the Author:
Terry has been an entrepreneur in the IT industry for over30 years. Go here to read his complete personal story, “Husband, father, Grandfather and IT Executive.” If you want to send Terry a quick message visit the contact page Here.
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