Health Advice



No screen time for 12- to 18-month-olds -- period!

By Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. on

According to a 2017 Common Sense Census of Media Use of Kids Zero to Eight, U.S. children under the age of 2 spend an average of 42 minutes a day using screen media. That's despite an American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that kids under 18 months should avoid all screen media, including TV.

If that gentle warning from the AAP didn't keep you from plopping your smartphone into the hands of your fussy youngster, maybe this will. A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics finds that when 12 month-old kids regularly view digital screens, it's associated with a 4% increase in autismlike symptoms (disconnection from interaction with others, for example) and the more daily play time young children have with their parents, well, that's associated with a 9% reduction in the risk of autismlike symptoms.

It's not that using digital devices increases the risk of diagnosed autism, but it does damage a child's ability to interact with the world in ways that are essential for emotional and intellectual development. In other words, when you hand your baby/toddler a phone or tablet you are damaging your child's future for some temporary peace and quiet.

So, if you can't focus on your child in the moment, books, toddler-safe crayons and paper, balls, mobiles and soft blocks all provide brain-stimulating distraction for 12- to 18-month-olds. Give them a try when you cannot go nose to nose or toes to toes (floor time is great) with your child.



Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit

(c)2020 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2020 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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