Electronic devices — such as televisions, smartphones, and computers — can be bad for children if they’re used too much. Studies have found links between too much screen time and childhood obesity, as well as delayed development.
How Much is Too Much Screen Time?
It depends on the child’s age. The key for parents is to keep screen time in check. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents to:
Ages 0-18 months: Allow only video-chatting.
Ages 18-24 months: Begin to introduce high-quality content, and watch it together to help children understand.
Ages 2-5 years: Limit screen time to 1 hour a day of high-quality content, and watch it together to help children understand.
Ages 6 years and older: Set consistent limits to make sure screen time doesn’t affect children’s sleep, exercise, or health.
Tips for Parents
Here are some tips parents can use to keep screen time in check:
1.Increase activity time
The more children are playing outside or learning, the less they’ll spend looking at a screen. Parents can play with their children, as well as encourage them to play outdoors, meet with their friends, and read books.
2.Set device-free zones:
A device-free zone is a place in the home where no electronic devices are allowed. Parents can choose bedrooms and the dinner table. These zones work best when the whole family respects the zones.
3.Set a good example:
Children often want to copy everything their parents do. When parents choose activities other than screen time, children will want to follow suit.
4.Watch and play together:
Any children’s screen time should be together time. Parents can turn screen time into a family activity, similar to reading a book or playing a board game. Children often don’t understand what’s happening on the screen, so a parent should watch with them and explain.
5.Don’t use it to calm a child down:
It’s tempting to give a child a device when they act out. But giving them a device at that time may teach them to act out any time they want screen time. They may act out even more next time if they’re not given a device, which can fuel a growing cycle of bad behavior and even more screen time.
Keeping screen time in check can help children grow up healthy and strong. But the focus shouldn’t be on cutting out screen time completely. The key is for parents to teach by example, support activities other than screen time, and set clear limits.
A pediatrician can answer any questions about screen time for children. If you need to find a pediatrician near you, our Find a Doctor online tool can help. Visit fideliscare.org/findadoctor to get started.