Find out the latest recommendations for children and screen time from leading experts.
The amount of screen time a child should be exposed to varies from expert to expert. Some recommend no screen time until 18 months old, while others advocate waiting until age three. In 2019, the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) recommended that there should be limited to no screen time for children under age 5.
Author and psychologist John Rosemond recommends that children shouldn't be allowed to watch any television until they have learned to read and have learned to read well. After that, he recommends you only allow your child to watch five hours a week. Psychotherapist and addiction expert Dr. Nicholas Kardaras believes that kids below the age of 10 should have no use of video games or interactive screens (tablets or smart phones). He asserts excessive screen time leads to clinical disorders.
Here’s a summary of the recommendations from The American Academy of Pediatrics (2016):
Age 0-18 months: Zero screen time with the exception of video chatting to family members.
Age 18-24 months: Media can be introduced if it is co-viewed with a parent. That means it’s okay if a parent is sitting there talking about what is happening on the screen. It is not recommended that children age 18 to 24 months watch media alone.
Age 2-5: No more than one hour of high-quality programming a day, preferably co-viewed with a caregiver.
Age 6-18: Prior to 2016, the AAP recommended one to two total hours of digital media a day. In 2016, the AAP updated their guidelines. They now urge parents of school-age children to limit media so that a child’s day includes at least an hour of physical activity, time for homework and family, and adequate sleep.
While experts may disagree on how much, they do agree on this:
Absolutely no TV, video games, computers, or any type of electronics (smartphones, tablets, etc.) in the bedroom—even when they’re teenagers.
Here’s a condensed list of Do’s and Don’ts from the leading authorities:
Establish rules about each media device. For instance, what is their total screen time limit? Are there any sites they can’t visit? Can they post pictures and videos? Are you planning on randomly checking their devices for inappropriate messages and photos? Talk to your kids about the rules and what is appropriate and what is inappropriate online behavior.
Have a technology curfew—at least one hour before bedtime—where n