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Is Facetime Considered Screen Time?

Many parents are feeling the push to limit screen time in their homes. With families and friends living across countries and oceans, it may leave you wondering, “Is Facetime considered screen time?“.

The current maximum daily screen time recommendations are as follows:

  • Under 18 months- None
  • 18-24 months- Less than 1 hour of high quality content per day, co-watched with caregiver
  • 2-5 years- 1 hour per day
  • 6-10- 1.5 hours per day
  • 10+- 2 hours per day

These guidelines can give parents anxiety about their child’s development, especially in a digital age where much of our person-to-person interaction happens via Zoom or Facetime.

So, do we tally Facetime and other live on-screen interactions in with our child’s daily screen time?

Is Facetime Considered Screen Time?

Though the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) discourage excess screen time for children, the two organizations do not consider all screen time to be equal.

Screen time that connects people, such as Facetime, taking photos or videos, and researching information online with a caregiver, is actually excluded from the AAP and WHO guidelines.

This is for good reason.

Live connective interactions, even with a screen present, have been shown to aid language development in young children and toddlers. Social cues and customs are also learned from chatting with family and friends on Facetime, a benefit not observed from other screen time, including recorded videos.

Through on-screen interactions with people outside of the home, children learn:

  • New words and phrases
  • Sentence structure
  • Social mannerisms that may not be present in the home

These benefits have been observed in studies for children as young as one.

Additionally, the importance of a child’s relationship with their extended family cannot be overstated; neither can be the relationships with friends and teachers. Through these interactions, children can maintain close relationships with the people important to them.

For infants and young toddlers, Facetiming family and friends is also an excellent way to keep them familiar with people’s faces, voices, and mannerisms. This can help ease a child’s social anxiety during the next in-person visit!

What a useful tool!

Whether or not you choose to include Facetime in with your child’s daily screen time log is up to you, though.

The science on screen time, however, tells us that live interaction via screens is not only not harmful, but that it actually has great benefits for kids.

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