ZERO TO THREE’s New ‘Screen Sense’ Report Updates Recommendations On Media Use for Children under Age 3




Sensible guidelines ensure children’s screen time is quality time

ZERO TO THREE, the leading nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life, released today Screen Sense, a report accompanied by a set of resources to guide parents and early childhood professionals in making mindful, informed decisions about screen media use for children under age 3.

The report, developed in partnership with leading researchers in the field of media and early childhood, provides practical guidelines that reflect the current research on screen media use and young children’s learning and development.

“Screens like mobile phones, tablets, video screens in our cars, and computers are embedded in our lives. Naturally, parents wonder about the role screens do—or should—play in the lives of their babies and toddlers, but advice for parents is often unclear or conflicting,” said Rebecca Parlakian, ZERO TO THREE’s Senior Director of Programs and a parenting expert. “Screen Sense makes it clear that a healthy screen media environment for young children is about more than just screen time. It’s also about selecting quality media experiences and engaging in media with children, in order to harness a child’s potential for learning.” 

The report is an update to ZERO TO THREE’s Screen Sense resources released in 2015. The updated report reflects recent research, responds to advances in digital technology, and offers new guidelines grounded in decades of research on how children learn.

“The first 1,000 days of life can have a greater impact on a child’s life trajectory than any other period,” said Elisabeth McClure, a research specialist at the LEGO Foundation Centre for Creativity, Play, and Learning. “Starting at the very beginning of childhood, babies and toddlers have a natural ability to learn about the world through play, and Screen Sense gives parents the knowledge they need to turn screen time into play time through enriching content and shared enjoyment.”

Screen Sense covers key topics related to children’s early learning and screen experiences, including:

  • The transfer deficit, or why young children can struggle to learn from screen time;
  • Technoference, a term that describes the way in which parental screen use can interfere with parent-child interactions;
  • Key criteria to consider when making media decisions for children; and
  • A decision-making framework for parents (the E-AIMS), which helps them identify high-quality, engaging media that promotes child learning.

Companion resources released for parents and caregivers include:

Learn more about Screen Sense and access the full suite of supporting materials and recommendations at

ZERO TO THREE works to ensure all babies and toddlers benefit from the family and community connections critical to their well-being and development. Since 1977, the organization has advanced the proven power of nurturing relationships by transforming the science of early childhood into helpful resources, practical tools and responsive policies for millions of parents, professionals and policymakers. For more information, and to learn how to become a ZERO TO THREE member, please visit, or follow @zerotothree on Twitter.

About the LEGO Foundation
The LEGO Foundation aims to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow; a mission that it shares with the LEGO Group. The LEGO Foundation is dedicated to building a future where learning through play empowers children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners. Its work is about re-defining play and re-imagining learning. In collaboration with thought leaders, influencers, educators and parents, the LEGO Foundation aims to equip, inspire and activate champions for play.

About the AuthorsRachel Barr, Ph.D., is a developmental and clinical psychologist and the director of the Georgetown Early Learning Project (ELP). The ELP shows that babies, toddlers, and young children pick up information from a variety of sources—television, books, computers, touchscreens, siblings—and across contexts.

Elisabeth McClure, Ph.D.,  is a research specialist in creativity and learning at the LEGO Foundation. McClure received her Ph.D. from Georgetown University, where she was trained in developmental psychology with a focus on public policy. She has conducted research on families, young children, and digital media, and her research on how babies and toddlers use video chat has been featured in a number of news outlets, and has been used to inform policies for the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Department of Education.

Rebecca Parlakian, M.A., E.D., is ZERO TO THREE's Senior Director of Programs where she develops resources for parents and provides training for parents and early childhood professionals. She has co-authored three parenting education curricula, developed ZERO TO THREE’s first mobile app, and has published articles on topics ranging from dual language development to relationship-building with families.