How Much Screen Time is OK for My Kid(s)?

How Much Screen Time is OK for My Kid(s)?

The battle over screen time and devices has become challenging for most families, and knowing how much is too much has become a moving target.

Kids, nowadays, are spending more time with screen — than ever before . It was reported by Bosco, at the end of February, 2020, average mobile phone usage was 4:30 hours a day. But post schools closure, it spiked to about six hours and now reaches an average of 8:40 hours. Even the number of messages in the WhatsApp groups of children is now 5 times higher, and as for teens aged 13 and over it is now 7.5 times higher than before. This surge in screen use is making parents anxious and pushing them to take measure to limit their screen time.

In fact, previously, American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) had set a general screen time limit: two hours in front of the TV for kids over age 2. But, today, in a world surrounded by digital media 24/7, defining screen time has become difficult. However, AAP recommends that consistent limits on the use of any media should be levied on kids and teens 5 to 18 years. Since, all screen time cannot be equal, so parents need to decide how (and how often) their teens use screens and whether screen time is positive or negative. For example, time spent on homework or other educational activities might not need to be as restricted as time spent playing video games. For teens and kids of all ages, screen time should not be replaced with time needed for sleeping, eating, being active, studying, and interacting with family and friends.

So, in an effort to help families curb kids use, groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have released a new numerical screen limit guidelines. The guidelines from the AAP focus on setting healthy guidelines that will prevent kids from using their devices in an unhealthy manner.

Guidelines By AAP:

​​The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) asks and encourages parents to help their children develop healthy media use habits early on. 

For children below 18 months, use of screen media other than video-chatting should be discouraged.

Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming/apps and use them together with children as it shows how toddlers learn best.

Allowing children use media by themselves should be avoided.

For children older than 2 years, keep the screen use to no more than 1 hour or less per day of high-quality programming. Co-view or co-play with your children, and find other activities for to do together, it is healthy for the body and mind (e.g., reading, teaching, talking, and playing together).

All children and teens need adequate sleep 8-12 hours, depending on age), physical activity (1 hour), and time away from media. Designate media-free time together (e.g., family dinner) and media-free zones (e.g., bedrooms). Children should never sleep with devices in their bedrooms, including TVs, computers, and smart phones, it may distract them.

AAP encourages parents to develop personalized media use plans for their children. These plans should take into account each child's age, health, personality, and developmental stage. Create Family Media Use Plan  and remember to communicate plan to other caregivers, such as babysitters or grandparents, so that media rules are followed consistently.

Guidelines By WHO:

​ The World Health Organization has issued it’s first-ever guidance for how much screen time that children under five should get i.e. not very much.

The children under 1 should not have any screen time while those under five should not spend more than one hour watching screens every day — and that less is better.

Here are few tips to help you limit their screen time:

  • Research videos and computer games before letting your kids get them. Check the ratings, which can run from EC (early childhood) to AO (adults only.) Teens should be limited to games rated T (for "teens") or younger. 
  • Preview games or play them with your teen to see what they're like. 
  • Make sure kids have a variety of free-time activities, like spending time with friends and playing sports, which can help them develop a healthy body and mind.
  • Turn off all screens during family meals time and at bedtime. Also, prefer keeping devices with screens out of your teen's bedroom after bedtime, and don't allow a TV in your teen's bedroom. 
  • Treat screen time as a privilege that kids need to earn. Tell them that screen time is allowed only after chores and home works are done.
  • Spend screen time together to make sure that what your kids see is appropriate.
  • Use parental control on the TV, computers, and tablets to block your teen's access to inappropriate material.
  • Teach them about Internet safety and social media smarts, and make sure they know the dangers of sharing private information online.  
  • Place computer in a common area where you can monitor their use.

Do you know more? If yes, do write to us.

About the Author
Author: Saniya Khan
Saniya Khan I am Saniya Khan, Copy-Editor at EdTechReview - India’s leading edtech media. As a part of the group, my aim is to spread awareness on the growing edtech market by guiding all educational stakeholders on latest and quality news, information and resources. A voraciously curious writer with a dedication to excellence creates interesting yet informational pieces, playing with words since 2016.

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