As parents, we've been conditioned to both worry—and, if we're being completely honest, rely on—screen time. Yes, we know the importance of placing limitations on it, but we also know that when we need to get dinner made or keep a cranky child in line at a restaurant or on a flight, nothing does the job like some good old screen time. Now a new study is challenging what we thought about screens, and it may provide a bit of reassurance to parents who are in the trenches.

A new report published in JAMA Pediatrics suggests overall screen time has no association with a child's performance at school—but after reviewing 58 studies researchers suggests that not all screen time is created equally, at least where its effect on academic performance is concerned.


According to the review, only screen time spent watching TV or playing passive video games has a negative impact on how children fare in school. Other uses of screen time (creative ones like drawing on an iPad app or Facetimeing with Grandma, or physical ones like playing active video games ) don't have the same impact.

Passive screen time (which includes activities like watching TV, playing video games that don't require problem solving or physical activity) isn't great for kids' behavior or cognitive development, but active screen time (playing educational video games or those that require physical action) is.

As Dr. Juana Willumsen, of the World Health Organization has said, "There is no denying that screens are part of the modern era. It is how we interact that matters."

Passive screen time is likely to be sedentary time, where as active screen time is, well, active. There is a big difference between a kid sitting in front of the TV for hours and a child dancing along to a Jojo Siwa playlist or playing Wii Sports with mom or dad.

According to the findings, passive TV consumption can adversely affect a child's composite academic scores, language and math abilities, while passive video game play can inhibit composite scores as well. Many kids watch a lot of TV and play a lot of video games (1.8 to 2.8 hours on average for TV; 40 minutes on average for video games, according to the study's authors), and this research suggests there may be a benefit to shifting to another form of screen-based play.

"Findings from this study suggest that each screen-based activity should be analyzed individually for its association with academic performance, particularly television viewing and video game playing, which appeared to be the activities most negatively associated with academic outcomes," the study's authors write. "Education and public health professionals should consider supervision and reduction to improve the academic performance of children and adolescents exposed to these activities."

Our take? This research is definitely worth taking into account. Screen time that engages kids with people (like watching a movie with mom or dad, or having a FaceTime call with a family member, for example) may be less harmful than just binge-watching TV, and when it comes to screen time moderation is good.

Some parents allow kids to have screen time here and there for their enjoyment. Same goes for video game playing and that is totally okay! We're glad experts continue to research how screens impact little brains. This research is worth considering if you're looking to reevaluate or set up guidelines where screen time is concerned, and if you need any additional clarification about what is right for your individual child, a chat with your pediatrician is the right place to start.

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Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)


Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some baby registry wisdom.

Go shopping with a veteran parent

As first-time parents, my husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Walmart to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leapt at the chance.

By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with an extra base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own.

Include items at a variety of price points

When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.

At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)

Think about the gifts you would like to give

The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.

I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.

Ask for things to grow with your child

Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that, I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. From an all-in-one carrier, like the Omni 360, that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace (and don't worry you can later upgrade to a carrier for an older baby, I recommend the 360 Carrier). The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

This article was sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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