American kids and teens spend a lot of time playing on their phones, tablets and computers – in many cases, up to eight hours a day. This isn’t a good thing – it turns out too much screen time can greatly hinder learning and development.
The amount of screen time your child should get varies by age. Here’s what the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:
- Babies and toddlers ages 18 months and younger should avoid screen media of any kind
- Toddlers and kids ages 2-5 years old should get less than one hour per day
- Kids and teens ages 5+ should get less than two hours per day
Kids getting more than two hours per day are at an increased risk of attention span and behavioral problems. Too much screen time can also increase depression and anxiety as well as lead to a greater risk for obesity. Toddlers who get too much screen time are more likely to experience delayed speech, along with other developmental issues.
To avoid these learning and behavioral issues, try these six tips to manage your child’s screen time:
- Teach kids that screen time is a privilege and only allow them to use their devices after completing other responsibilities, such as homework and household chores.
- Keep devices and screens in a public space so you can monitor what your kids are doing. Avoid letting them use their devices in the bedroom as this can encourage them to stay up too late at night.
- Take time to engage with your kids. It’s up to the parents to plan activities, outings and playdates to keep kids physically and mentally engaged.
- Be a good role model and take time to detach from your own devices. When kids see their parents engaged in activities without their screens, they’re more likely to model that type of behavior.
- Consider using an app to monitor screen usage. These apps can monitor how often devices are used and automatically turn them off when a limit is reached.
- Create tech-free zones at home, such as the dinner table. This helps kids disconnect from their devices and connect with the people around them.
If you need help managing your child’s screen time, talk to your pediatrician or family medicine physician. He or she can provide additional ideas to help your kids find other activities and spend less time with their screens. Need help finding a physician? Make an appointment online or call 630-527-6363.
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