Getting the Right Amount of Screen Time
Based on research by the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids under age 6 watch TV an average of 2 hours a day (including videos or DVDs). Kids ages 8 and older devote more than an average of 6 hours a day using media for entertainment, 7 days a week, which is more than an adult’s 40-hour work week. Some kids often spend much of that multitasking with more than one device at a time, and therefore, they manage to pack in more than 10 hours a day of combined screen time.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no more than 2 hours of educational TV for kids ages 2 and older (and no TV for kids under age 2). Following the guideline of 5-2-1-Almost None program, designed to help families with eating, screen time, and exercise, we recommend minimizing media usage to an hour or less daily, since screen time can help contribute to childhood obesity.
Five Tips to Ensure Healthy Use of Media
- Resist the urge to use mobile devices to entertain your child on-the-go. Rather than using smart phones, tablets, and e-readers when you’re going out with your child, pack a fun bag with favorite toys, coloring books and crayons, and a few books. If you’re going out to eat with your teenager, encourage him or her to not use their mobile phone (and model the same behavior).
- Encourage and help your kids plan TV viewing in advance. Keep non-educational media use to a preplanned hour or two daily, preferably after homework and chores are done. With guidance, children can organize their time and choose television programs that fit their schedule. Keep copies of the family viewing schedule posted in a visible location (by the TV or on the refrigerator) to serve as a reminder.
- Avoid TV watching during dinner. The evening meal is often the only time that families are able to be together for any sustained period. If the TV set is on at the same time, it will interfere with conversation and connecting with each other.
- Keep the TV and computer out of the bedroom. Not only will children tend to watch more television and surf the web unsupervised, but they might detach themselves from other family activities. Having a TV or computer in the bedroom also may cut down on sleep, causing problems with fatigue at school. Keep a family computer in a common room and set a schedule for internet use with parental controls. Designate a separate log-in for schoolwork, blocking any sites that are distractions.
- Create screen-free weeks to reconnect with your family. For example, your family can participate in National Screen-Free Week, usually the first week in May. Families agree to spend seven days “unplugged” and find other ways to be entertained and spend time with each other.