How much screen time is too much for kids?

Screen time, or use of smartphones, tablets and TVs, gives many parents an easy fix to keep their children entertained or help them learn. But how much is too much?

Data from the nonprofit organization Common Sense Media shows that kids age eight and younger are getting 48 minutes per day of mobile device screen time. This is more time than they spend reading or having books read to them. Consider these other findings of screen time use for kids eight and younger:

  • 42 percent of them have their own cellphone or tablet.
  • They spend nearly two-and-a-half hours each day with interacting with media on screens.
  • Nearly all children in this age group live in homes with a mobile device.
  • Nearly half of them play videogames right before going to bed, which can affect their sleep.

How to limit screen time

The American Academy of Pediatrics came out with recommendations last year about young children and screen time. Among their findings is that very young children cannot fully understand what’s happening on mobile screens. By ages 15 to 18 months, they start to develop the ability to interact with screens in a more meaningful way.

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations include:

  • Limiting screen time for infants and toddlers to approximately an hour a day or less
  • Not giving young children used cellphones or tablets to have as their own with unlimited use
  • Interacting with the child while he or she is using these devices
  • Teaching them not to ignore people when they are using a mobile device

It’s important that young children learn that interactions with people are more important than interactions with mobile devices and television. While it takes more effort as a parent, it will most likely pay off in the long term for parent and child.

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