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Screen Time for Children: How Much Is Okay?

It’s important to limit the amount of time your child spends in front of a screen. Find out the average amount by age—plus, we’ll provide some healthy alternatives for the whole family to be more active.

Child looking at phone, how to cut down on screen time

 

Why is screen time an issue?

 

Time spent in front of a screen typically means less time being active. Less activity and more screen time may be a factor in the recent rise of childhood obesity. Children need 60 minutes of physical activity a day—this helps them build strong bones, muscles, and cardiovascular health. Instead of spending time playing video games or watching TV, encourage your kids to play soccer, ride scooters with friends, or play tag in the backyard.  

 

Related: 4 Reasons to Ditch Your Device  

 

How does your child compare?

 

  • Children ages eight to ten spend about six hours a day in front of a screen (four of these hours in front of a television)
  • Children ages 11 to 14 spend about nine hours a day in front of a screen (five of these hours in front of a television)
  • Youth ages 15 to 18 spend about 7½ hours a day in front of a screen (4 ½ hours of these hours in front of a television)  

We know that screens are everywhere and they come in many forms—tablets, TVs, video games, smartphones, etc. These devices are easily accessible at home and at school, and that’s part of the reason why kids are spending so much of their day in front of one.

 

In the 1970s, the average age a child first watched a television was four years. Contrast that to today—now 75% of infants and toddlers watch TV before the age of two. In fact, 43% of children younger than the age of two watch TV every day.  

 

Related: Start Your Kids on a Heart-healthy Path  

 

How much time is recommended? 

 

Help limit screen time to one to two hours a day by modeling a positive attitude about physical activity. Your child will take notice of your healthy habits.  

 

How can I get my child to be more active?

 

Make it fun to be active and find something that your child enjoys doing. Take your child with you when you walk the dog, explore a nearby park, or kick the ball around with them in the front yard. This will help your children establish healthy habits when they’re young. 

 

Children can engage in informal activity such as playing at a nearby basketball court, joining a neighborhood pickup game of soccer after school, or they may be interested in joining a team sport. Either way, it’s important to provide children opportunities to be active every day.  

While you’re here, check out our other healthy living articles.  

 

 

SelectHealth may link to other websites for your convenience. SelectHealth does not expressly or implicitly recommend or endorse the views, opinions, specific services, or products referenced at other websites linked to the SelectHealth site, unless explicitly stated.

 

The content presented here is for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and it should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

    1. “Screen Time vs. Lean Time.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017. Web. 21 March 2018. <cdc.gov/nccdphp/dch/multimedia/infographics/getmoving.htm> “How Much Physical 2. Activity Do Children Need?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015. Web. 21 March 2018. <cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/children/index.htm>“Children and Media.” Public 3. Broadcasting System. Web. 22 March 2018. <http://www.pbs.org/parents/childrenandmedia/article-faq.html#rules>

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Post Author

Sandy Patton

Sandy is a Marketing Communications Specialist and has been with SelectHealth for 15 years. Her prior roles include health education and wellness coaching.