Screen time and children
Current Screen Time Guidelines
Children under age 2 should have no screen time.
Limit screen time to 1 to 2 hours a day for children over age 2.
Despite what ads may say, videos that are aimed at very young children do not improve their development.
How to Decrease Screen Time
Cutting down to 2 hours a day can be hard for some children because TV may be such a large part of their daily routines. But you can help your children by telling them how sedentary activities affect their overall health. Talk to them about things they can do to be healthier.
To decrease screen time:
- Remove the TV or computer from your child's bedroom.
- Do not allow TV watching during meals or homework.
- Do not let your child eat while watching TV or using the computer.
- Do not leave the TV on for background noise. Turn on the radio instead, or have no background noise.
- Decide which programs to watch ahead of time. Turn off the TV when those programs are over.
- Suggest other activities, such as family board games, puzzles, or going for a walk.
- Keep a record of how much time is spent in front of a screen. Try to spend the same amount of time being active.
- Be a good role model as a parent. Decrease your own screen time to 2 hours a day.
- If it is hard not having the TV on, try using a sleep function so it turns off automatically.
- Challenge your family to go 1 week without watching TV or doing other screen-time activities. Find things to do with your time that get you moving and burning energy.
Baum RA. Positive parenting and support. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 19.
Gahagan S. Overweight and obesity. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 60.
Strasburger VC, Jordan AB, Donnerstein E. Health effects of media on children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2010;125(4):756-767. PMID: 20194281
Last reviewed on: 5/24/2021
Reviewed by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.