curiosity | Jul 22, 2022

Screen Time For Kids - How Much Is Too Much?

By Blue Squirrel Team

Screen Time For Kids - How Much Is Too Much?

If you’re a modern day parent, chances are you have a love-hate relationship with screens. While there are fantastic movies, television shows and online programs that are fun and educational for our kids, it’s incredibly easy to go overboard with screen time, with kids spending hours in front of a phone or television screen without even noticing it. Today, kids are getting more screen time than any past generation, and the numbers might shock you.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children ages eight to 10 spend an average of six hours per day in front of a screen, kids ages 11 to 14 spend an average of nine hours per day in front of a screen, and youth ages 15 to 18 spend an average of seven-and-a-half hours per day in front of a screen. Though it may seem impossible that your child could spend that much time in front of a screen, when you consider television, laptops or digital devices potentially used for homework and school, tablets and smartphones, the hours really do add up.

Although all screen time is not created equal as far as content, all screen time can result in the same negative effects on your child’s health, including irregular sleep schedules, behavioral problems and obesity from lack of physical play and constant snacking while watching their favorite shows. So, how much screen time should your child get?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following screen limits for children, which is a great guide to target within your own family:

  • 24 months and younger: avoid screen time entirely other than video chatting with family.
  • Ages 2 - 5: Limit screen use to just one hour a day of high-quality programming like Sesame Street or PBS. Parents should co-watch to help children understand what they are watching and how to apply it to the world around them.
  • Ages 6 - 12: Place consistent limits on screen time and make sure it does not take the place of adequate sleep or physical activity.
  • 12 years and older: Designate screen-free time together such as weekly dinnertime, one screen-free evening a week or screen-free bedrooms.

If you already feel overwhelmed by the idea of implementing these suggested regulations, don’t fret. The first thing you can do is monitor your child’s screen time so you can evaluate how much you may or may not need to adjust. You’ll also want to monitor your own screen time, especially since children often emulate the behavior of their parents. Two quick ways to reduce screen time as a family are to replace background tv noise with that of music or listening to a podcast, and to stop eating in front of a screen. Try to remember that when you remove screen time, it must be replaced by another engaging activity, like lively family conversation at dinner.

Finally, when it is time for your child to enjoy their screen time, create a plan around it. Especially while they’re very young, work together to choose quality programming that’s educational, has diverse characters or perhaps amazing original songs. Instate parental controls to ensure that your child doesn’t accidentally come across a show or video game that’s violent in nature. When time allows, watch with them to talk about what you see and how it may or may not relate to your own family. Active screen time is also a fun way to keep your child engaged and healthy through a guided family yoga class, stretch-session or meditation class.

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