From cellphones and televisions to laptops and tablets, it seems that everyone is glued to screens—including kids. Too much screen time, however, can have harmful effects on health and learning. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently updated its media guidelines for children and adolescents, as follows:
- Younger than 18 months: Avoid screen time, except for video chatting. Parents should supervise video chat sessions.
- 18 to 24 months: Only view high-quality educational programming that parents and children watch together. Parents should interact with children during viewing to help facilitate learning. Avoid solo screen time.
- 2 to 5 years: Limit screen time to less than one hour per day. Choose high-quality media and interact with children during viewing whenever possible. Previous guidelines stated children ages 2 and older should have less than two hours of screen time per day. However, a recent study found that the more media that 2-year-old children watch, the higher their body mass index (a measure of weight relative to height).
- School-age children and teens: Media use should never interfere with sleep, homework or getting enough exercise. It’s important to set rules around media use. For example, the AAP recommends shutting off devices one hour before bedtime.