Screen Time: How Much Time Is Too Much For Kids?

Televisions, smartphones, computers, and tablets are all devices both adults and children use for information, entertainment, and social interaction. As with most modern conveniences, it is best to use them in moderation. Unfortunately, many kids (and adults) spend too much time looking at screens. How much screen time is too much for kids?

Children playing on tablets.

Recommended Guidelines

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children younger than two years old should ideally have no screen time, and no more than one hour per day if they have any. For children over 2 years of age, the AAP recommends no more than two hours a day of screen time (excluding school work).

However much time your child is spending looking at screens, likely they are better off with less screen time.

The Consequences of Too Much Screen Time

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at 2,400 children in Canada. They discovered those children from ages 2 to 3 with greater amounts of screen time were “associated with significantly poorer performance” when their development was assessed at age 3 and 5.

It may be a challenge for parents to carefully monitor how much time your child is spending on a device. You may be unpleasantly surprised. 

Too much time on screens can lead to social, emotional, and attention problems including the following issues:

  • Obesity
  • Irregular sleep
  • Behavioral problems
  • Impaired academics
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • Less creativity

Physical activity and social interaction are important for a child’s development.

Tips for Parents to Reduce Kids’ Screen Time

You are the best model for your children. Set your own “no device time” like during dinner, right before bedtime, or during any family or play time.

Shut off background TV as this is distracting when kids are doing schoolwork.

Allow no devices in their bedroom. Turn them off at least one hour before bed.

Allow no eating or snacking while on devices as this turns into increased screen time.

Encourage activities like reading, physical play, and arts and crafts.

Post a bulletin board motto for the family: “SIT LESS—MOVE MORE.”

Contact Elmwood Pediatric Group at (585) 244-9720 if you identify any physical or social issues that you are concerned about.

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