Screen Time Guidelines For Children By Age

Let’s face it, in the age of technology, it's hard to escape screens. They aren’t just everywhere we go - in our homes, at work, at school, in the streets - we actually carry them around in our pockets all day! As smartphones have transitioned from a luxury device for the tech-savvy to the standard phone option, screen time usage continues to rise. In fact, according to the US Census Bureau, 84% of American households had smartphones present in 2018, with smartphone ownership surpassing all other computer devices.

This means children have never had more access to screens than they do today. In fact, a report from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, updated in February 2020, stated that, “On average, children ages 8-12 in the United States spend 4-6 hours a day watching or using screens, and teens spend up to 9 hours.” Even for many toddler-age children, screen time is already a significant part of their lives. But exactly how much screen time is too much for kids? Let’s go over why less screen time may be better for your kids and what the screen time recommendations by age are.

Why Limit Screen Time?

Though there’s nothing inherently bad about screen time for children in moderation, research has shown that children who spend an excessive amount of time in front of screens have a higher risk of developing problems such as obesity, sleep disturbances, attention problems, and behavioral issues. Furthermore, children who spend more time on screens are more likely to have poorer social skills and struggle with communication, making it harder for them to build relationships and make friends.

Does Screen Time Affect Children's Behavior?

Studies have shown that excessive screen time can affect children's behavior negatively. Children who spend more time on screens are more likely to have difficulty focusing, lower academic performance, and more behavioral problems such as aggression, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Excessive screen time can also lead to sleep disturbances, which can further exacerbate behavioral problems.

So while technology can offer many benefits for kids, such as being able to connect with family or friends long distance or use educational apps and games, research has shown that children who spend an excessive amount of time in front of screens have a higher risk of developing such physical, emotional, and behavioral issues as the ones mentioned above.

That’s why reducing screen time and replacing it with other activities such as physical activity, reading, and imaginative play can help improve children's health and behavior. By setting limits on screen time and encouraging alternative activities, parents can help their children develop better habits and reduce the risk of certain health and behavioral problems.

Screen Time Recommendations by Age

  • Children under 18 months old are in a crucial period of brain development, where they learn to focus, understand language, and interact with their environment. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), children under 18 months should not be exposed to any screen time, except for video chatting with family and friends. This is because screens can overstimulate a baby's developing brain, leading to a lack of focus and attention. Furthermore, excessive screen time can interfere with the development of language, social, and cognitive skills.

    Instead of screens, babies should engage in activities that promote brain development, such as tummy time, listening to music, singing, and playing with toys. These activities can help babies develop their motor skills, cognitive abilities, and social-emotional skills.
  • Between 18 and 24 months, children are still developing important cognitive and social skills. However, at this age, some screen time is permissible, but only if it involves high-quality educational content that is watched with a caregiver. The AACAP recommends that children in this age group have no more than one hour of screen time per day. It's important to remember that screen time should not replace real-world experiences, such as outdoor play and interaction with others.
  • Between 2 and 5 years old, children continue to learn language, problem-solving, and social skills. At this age, the AACAP recommends that children have no more than one hour of screen time per day. Screen time should be used to supplement other forms of learning, such as reading, playing, and exploring the outdoors. It's important to choose high-quality, educational content that is age-appropriate and watched with a caregiver.
  • Between 6 and 17 years old, children are in a critical stage of development, where they learn to think critically, make decisions, and develop healthy relationships. While screen time can have some benefits, such as improving digital literacy and providing access to information, too much screen time can have negative effects on mental health, academic performance, and physical health. The AACAP recommends that children in this age group have no more than two hours of screen time per day, and that screen time is balanced with physical activity, social interaction, and other healthy habits. Parents should ensure that screen time does not interfere with sleep, physical activity, or other essential activities such as homework and family time.

By following the guidelines above, we can help our children have a healthy start in life and develop to their full potential. Of course as a parent, it can be quite challenging to limit your child's screen time, but it is essential for their overall health and development. Here are some tips to help reduce screen time for your kids:

  • Set Limits: Establish clear boundaries on when and how long your child can use technology each day. Make sure to communicate these rules clearly and consistently enforce them.
  • Encourage Alternative Activities: Encourage your child to engage in activities that don't involve screens, such as reading, playing board games, or going outside to play.
  • Lead by Example: Children learn by example, so make sure you are modeling healthy screen habits yourself. Limit your own screen time and engage in alternative activities with your child.
  • Use Parental Controls: Many devices come with parental control options, which can help you regulate your child's screen time and ensure they are not exposed to inappropriate content.
  • Consider Safe Technology Options: When choosing devices for your child, consider options specifically designed and developed for kids, which prioritize limiting screen time and online safety.

SoyMomo's Space 2.0 is a smartwatch designed specifically for children. It does not have internet access or games, so parents can rest assured that their child is not being exposed to inappropriate content or spending excessive time on screens. Instead, the watch has features such as GPS tracking, voice messaging, and phone call capabilities, and an emergency call button, allowing parents to stay connected with their child while also promoting a healthy balance of screen time.

SoyMomo's Tablet Pro 2.0 has parental controls that allow you to set limits on your child's screen time, block inappropriate content, and monitor their usage. This tablet also comes preloaded with educational apps and games, promoting learning and development while also limiting screen time.

In conclusion, reducing screen time for children is essential for their overall health and well-being. By setting clear boundaries, encouraging alternative activities, leading by example, using parental controls, and considering safe technology options like SoyMomo's Space 2.0 and Tablet Pro 2.0, parents can help their children develop healthy screen habits and prioritize their overall well-being.


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