patient engagement

AAP’s New Guidance on Media Use for Families

The American Academy of Pediatrics has introduced a new model for social media use in families. Many parents have questions about supporting their child using devices they may not have used as children themselves. In this post, we’ll take a brief look at the AAP’s suggestions, and offer tips and advice for promoting healthy media use at your practice and throughout your community.

The 5 Cs: A New Model for Healthy Media Use for Children

The AAP’s model was formed based on what we currently know about social media use, childhood development milestones, emotional well-being, and family relationships. The model uses 5 helpful Cs to help parents identify key areas to consider when making parenting decisions for their family.

  • Child: Every child is different, and their needs will shift as they grow and face different circumstances. Circumstances to consider are the child’s personality, unique likes and dislikes, social benefits or risks of media use, and development needs.
  • Content: Quality media support kids’ needs at their stage of development. Resources that assist with age-appropriateness such as Common Sense Media are a great place to start.
  • Calm: It can be tempting for kids (and adults) to self-soothe with media, but other coping mechanisms such as exercise, talking/writing about feelings, or breathing exercises are important for emotional balance.
  • Crowding Out: Emphasize the importance of balancing media use with other activities such as physical play, reading, and family time.
  • Communication: Advocate for open and honest communication between parents, children, and healthcare providers about media use and its impact on overall health and well-being.

By incorporating the 5 Cs model into your practice, you can empower families to make informed decisions about media use and support the unique needs of every child.

Supporting Healthy Media Balance in Practice

While helping families identify the 5 Cs is a great way to build a media use practice at home, watching important adults modelling safe and healthy media use helps kids learn digital literacy and healthy coping mechanisms that don’t rely on media distractions. Here are some ways your practice can “walk the walk”.

Use your EHR. Your EHR is an invaluable health tool that can measure important considerations like media use over time. For example, PCC EHR’s Last Answer function helps pediatricians enter chart notes faster and more efficiently. PCC EHR is also integrated with CHADIS for easy access to mental health questionnaires for your patients.

Lean on fellow experts. It takes a village to support kids’ minds and bodies. Engage with community partners such as schools, daycare programs, mental health providers and social workers to promote healthy habits in media use. Consistent messages and support can help families model great habits at home.

Host an event or class. If there is enough interest, you might offer an event or class at your practice after hours for parents to learn about building healthy media habits or learning to break unhealthy patterns at home. While you or another expert can offer tips and advice such as the AAP’s 5 Cs, be sure to allow some time for parents to share their needs and stories. Simply the opportunity to exchange similar stories with other parents can help families feel empowered by a sense of empathy and community.

Utilize your voice. Pediatricians are a respected voice. Use your practice’s communication superpowers — digital or otherwise — to remind families about healthy emotional coping mechanisms, mental health resources, and healthy media habits. You might include a helpful video, reinforce the 5 Cs, or promote a local event or activity that gets families outside or engaged together in fun.

Through a combination of guidance, community engagement, and modeling positive behaviors, we can empower families to navigate the digital landscape with confidence and mindfulness.

Allie Squires

Allie Squires is PCC's Marketing Content Writer and editor of The Independent Pediatrician. She holds a master's in Professional Writing from NYU.