How Much Screen Time Is Too Much for Children?

Have you ever tried to monitor how much time your children spend on their smartphones, tablets, or simply in front of the TV?
With the pandemic and the new distant learning model, screen time has increased significantly. It has also gained an educational dimension that makes it even harder for you to control.
Studies have shown that American kids between 8 and 12 years old spend an average screen time of 4-6 hours per day.
Screen time can be both helpful and entertaining, but how much screen time is too much for children?

How Much Screen Time Is Accepted for Children?

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, kids spend around 7.5 hours of screen time every day. This is a huge amount of time not spent exploring the world.
Although screen time of any kind may have some advantages, it doesn’t benefit children under 2 years old.
No matter how strongly the ads claim that some games and videos help the development of children, a study by the National Institute of Health proved that screen time at that age might even delay brain development.
The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages any screen time for children under the age of 2, setting the daily screen time for children as follows:
  • Children under 2 years old: None except video chatting.
  • Children between 2 and 5: One hour maximum with a parent or an older sibling.
  • Children between 5 and 17: Two hours maximum in addition to schoolwork.

What Happens If Children Are Exposed to Too Much Screen Time?

Every minute of screen time means a minute less contact with the world around.
To add, increased screen time for children exposes them to violence, sexual content, negative stereotypes, drug use, cyberbullies, and misleading information.
On top of that, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry argues that too much screen time has the following negative effects on children.
  • Obesity
Screen time can lead to weight gain as it doesn’t need much physical activity, helps develop an appetite for the junk foods in ads, and encourages overeating.
  • Behavioral Issues
Young children who get more than two hours of screen time may develop emotional, social, and attention problems.
  • Violence
Overexposure to violence makes children accept violence as a normal problem-solving technique.
  • Sleep Problems
Children who get too much screen time find it harder to fall asleep or get sound sleep. This may lead to fatigue and other health problems.
  • Poor Academic Performance
Instead of studying, children spend their time in front of a screen. This means poor performance at school.
  • Less Playing Time
With too much screen time, there’s no time for physical or creative activities.
  • Eye-Strain
Children may get eye problems that may reach up to impaired vision with excessive screen time.
  • Neck or Back Problems
Neck and back problems are very common in children who spend too much in front of a screen.
  • Depression
Excessive screen time may cause mood issues, in general, including depression. This can be due to the poor self-image kids get from the negative media influence.
  • Loss of Social Skills
More screen time means less time with family and friends. This leads to the loss of social skills.
  • Delays in Language
In children under 2, excessive screen time would mostly lead to delays in language use. They not only talk late but also lack the will to deal with other people.

How to Control Your Child’s Screen Time?

The question remains; how do you reduce children’s screen time? Here are some helpful tips:
  • Make Electronics-Free Zones in the House
Keep TVs, computers, tablets, smartphones, and the like. out of your child’s bedroom or the dining room. Create a family zone, where you and your children can play and socialize.
  • Eliminate Background TV
Even if just background noise, the TV is likely to capture your child’s attention. Don’t turn your TV on unless you’re actually watching it.
  • Don’t Watch TV During Meals
Eating in front of electronic devices adds to both the screen time and the food quantity. It encourages mindless munching, which may lead to obesity.
  • Spend Time With Your Children
Make room for your children within your busy schedule. Play with them, chat, even dance if that’s what they like.
  • Encourage Physical/Outdoor Activities
Go on trips, take long walks, go running, or just play any outdoor game.
  • Set an Example
Children, especially younger ones, learn by example. If you want your children to leave their phones, drop yours first.

Benefits of Cutting Down Screen Time for Children

Although cutting down children’s screen time can be very challenging, it’s worth it. Reducing your child’s screen time leads to:
  • A Healthier Lifestyle
Less screen time and more physical activity mean reducing the risk of obesity and getting a better night's sleep.
  • Better School Performance
When children spend less time in front of screens, they have more time for school work and exploration. This enables them to learn better and faster, and, in turn, do better at school.
  • Stronger Social Skills
Reducing screen time gives your child the chance to be among people. It widens the child’s social network and improves his/her communication skills.
  • Happier Mood
Going out and dealing with people may boost your children’s mood. It also helps them get a higher level of attention and less depression or anxiety.

How to Make Your Child’s Screen Time Beneficial?

No matter how hard you try, your child must have some screen time. This can be due to social pressure or simply the new distant learning technique. Here’s how to get the most of your child’s screen time.
  • Watch With Your Child
When you and your child watch programs or shows together, you’ll be able to point out any bad behavior that should not be followed. This way, you’re reducing the negative effect of the media.
  • Parental Control Is a Must
Choose in advance what your child may watch or play. Preview apps, video games, videos, shows, etc. You should also filter and block harmful internet content.
  • Encourage Active Screen Time
This is a technique where your child performs some physical activity during screen time.


Screens have become an important part of modern life not only for gaming and shows but also for education and school work. But how much screen time is too much for children?
Although it depends on the child’s age, it should not, in any way, exceed two hours per day. Too much screen time has negative effects, including obesity, violence, lack of social life, and weak academic performance.
Therefore, you should consider ways to limit your child’s screen time such as eliminating background television and creating electronic-free zones.
You can also make the most out of your child’s screen time by introducing active screening and spending their screen time with them.