What is a Healthy Amount of Screen Time Per Day for Children?


Never before has a generation grown up with as much exposure to media. 

Today, everywhere you turn there are screens of all sizes. Online media (videos, social media, gaming) and advertisements are a normal part of every child's life and are almost unavoidable.

While you may not be able to control the proliferation of technology, you can choose how much you allow your children to be exposed to it.

Children under the ages of 18 are the first generation to grow up with such an incredible array of entertainment. The ability to always find something interesting online means that children feel compelled to watch and play continually.

However, this constant connection may be causing problems that parents have never faced in previous generations.

Studies have also shown that children that have too much exposure to technology early can suffer from behavioral or impulse control issues. Too much screen time may interfere with sleep, increase the risk of depression, and increase the risk of obesity.

How Much Screen Time is A 'Healthy' Amount?

Just as television viewing was regulated for previous generations, now children must have rules for how much 'screen time' is allowed for entertainment.

Here is the typical breakdown for healthy screen time suggested by experts: 

  • Age 2-5: less than 1 hour per day of high-quality programs.

  • Ages 5-10: one to two hours per day

  • Ages 10-13: up to two hours per day

  • Ages 13-16: up to two hours per day

  • Ages 16+: ideally less than 5 hours per day

As a general rule, two hours or less a day seems to be the agreed healthy amount. Keep in mind this is for fun and entertainment time and does not include educational-related screen time. 


Screen Time as a Reward

Dr. Angela Mattke, a Mayo Clinic pediatrician, explains that it is important not to punish children by removing screen time. 

This just creates a need for more time. Instead, it is important to reward good behavior with the ability to watch or play for longer.

Create ‘Media Free Zones’

Another important factor to consider is where and when children and teenagers are using their digital devices. It can be wise to have tech-free zones of the house.

Some experts suggest that no devices should be allowed in children's bedrooms. Also, during dinnertime phones and small devices should be kept away from the table.

This is especially important for children aged 5 -10 but also applies to teens. As bedtime approaches, it can be wise to set a 'smartphone curfew' as exposure to blue light close to sleep can have a damaging effect.

In limited amounts, the social aspect of screens can help teens feel connected, Dr. Mattke says. For this reason, no online time may have an adverse effect. 

Downtime Helps Development

The brain needs time each day to recover from stress and mentally challenging activities. This is why downtime from electronic devices is an essential part of a child's development. 

The more educated you are about the realities of technology, the better decisions you can make to help your children find a healthy balance. 

Need help to manage your child's tech time? Camp Unplugged is a summer camp designed to help kids break free of technology and to learn life and social skills. Contact us today to learn more and help your child grow healthily all summer long!

Christie WalshComment