How much is enough screen time?

Studies show that children are spending an average of 3 hours a day on screens. This includes activities like watching television, streaming videos online, playing games, and doing school work.

Some simple multiplication tells us that that if kids are spending 3 hours a day in front of a screen, then that means they’re spending 45 days a year staring at a screen. Before we start pointing fingers and lamenting the screen-free days, we should probably take a long look in the mirror.

Studies also show that parents are spending as much time on screens as their children. Whether it be at work or at home, we adults are clocking in about 9 hours a day on our screens.

For those of us working with or raising children, these numbers are concerning, especially when we consider how little time is left for other social and hands-on learning experiences.

As with all things, screens are beneficial when we use them in moderation, but our problems are in figuring out how much is “enough,” and choosing to engage in quality screen-based activities.

Last November, The American Academy of Pediatrics released their revised guidelines for children and screen time. According to their recommendations, children should:

*Avoid screen time until over age 18 months;
*Limit screen time to one hour per day between ages 2 to 5;
*Co-view media with adults and engage in conversations about what they are seeing;
*Develop a media use plan with an adult after they reach age 6. This plan should include an appropriate amount of use time and an outline for the kinds of media that they will use.

One consistent theme throughout the guidelines is an emphasis on adults engaging with children during media use. This allows adults to help scaffold children’s learning and provides adults with authentic opportunities to teach the importance of safe-use and online citizenship.

As children reach the ages of 6 to 8, the AAP suggests that they work with their parents to develop a Media Use Plan that outlines when, how, and where they will view screens.

The Media Use Plan is an interactive template that can be found HERE.