If you are looking for recommended screen time by age – you’ve come to the right place. Screen time includes spending time watching TV, playing video games, using a computer, and using any other electronic device to play games, shop, text, or connect with friends. Learn more about how to get young kids to set limits on their screen time here.
If you are a working mom, it is SO HARD to juggle your family, work, and home WITHOUT screen time.
I get it.
We are all asking the same questions. What is the recommended screen time by age? How much TV should my kids be watching. What alternatives are there to screen time? Let’s dig in and go over all these questions!
- Why Is Screen Time Important?
- Develop Good Screen Time Habits & Behavior
- APA screen time guidelines
- Apply these guidelines to your family:
- Set A Timer / Screen Time Limits
- Analyze The Risks And Benefits Of A Child’s Apps & Smartphones
- Choose The Best Screen For Your Family
- A Successful Strategy to Try at Home
- My Advice To Parents for Recommended Screen Time by Age
Why Is Screen Time Important?
The debate is real. Is digital media entertainment good or bad? Pros? Cons?
Personally, I think it’s a really good skill for kids to use screens, know how to use them, and have a history with technology. But, I think it’s also really important to keep recommended screen time by age, and be cognizant of alternate ways for kids to spend their time.
I am a FIERCE advocate to protect kids online and with social media, but that is a completely different conversation. Please, please protect your kids from the unknown of the internet. They are too young and it is common for them to be sucked into something dangerous!
As a working mom, I rely on screen time to help occupy my kids while I work. We don’t use it all the time, and we definitely have “house rules”, but I find it very useful when my days get busy!
Lets talk more about high quality recommended screen time by age:
Develop Good Screen Time Habits & Behavior
Raising children in a digital world is not easy. With 8-12-year-olds in the US spending between 4 to 6 hours on screens, parents, childhood experts, and GP’s have expressed growing concerns about the effects digital devices have on children’s development, sleep, and ability to focus. When you think about all the online articles telling us to watch excessive screen time, it’s no wonder we feel guilty every time our children are gaming or streaming videos, especially when the sun is out.
If you’re wondering how much screen time is too much, then let’s look at official guidelines. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no screens for under-twos and a maximum of 2 hours of screen time daily for older children and teens for years. But since 2016, they have relaxed their guidelines, recognizing that not all screen use is equal.
APA screen time guidelines
- Don’t throw out the good with the bad. Screens can give them positive experiences too. Say, your daughter might love listening to her grandmother telling her a story on Skype, or maybe your son turns out a surprisingly edible pizza margarita thanks to an online cookery class.
- If your young child is 18 months old or younger, use screens for video calling relatives or parents.
- Only let your toddler between 18 and 24 months watch educational shows with you or another caregiver.
- Are your kids between the ages of 2-5? Set a limit of non-educational screen time to around one hour daily and 3 hours on Saturday and Sunday.
Apply these guidelines to your family:
I like to think of child’s screen time as any activity. Too much reading without exercise is a bad thing. Too many crafts without reading isn’t great either. Too much screen time without creative, independent play, is not that great.
So, when my daughter wants watch something I usually ask myself:
- Has she had creative independent play today?
- Has she read books?
- Has she had any physical activity yet?
- Does she need to do any homework?
- Does she need face interactions with real people?
If she’s done different versions of all these things, then I think it’s totally fine letting her watch a few kid-friendly shows. I know my daughter, and sometimes it’s really helpful for her to have alone “watching” time to recover from being social and active.
In the same light, you know your family best. Know what your priorities are for your family, and use screen time to get you there!
Set A Timer / Screen Time Limits
I love that the Amazon Fire for Kids has limits you can set for kids. I love how I can make her “read” 30 minutes of kindle books before she watches anything. And that I can turn it off after 6pm. Whatever our criteria are for your kids, use screen time to enforce that and limit screen use and exposure. (Keep reading to see how we use the Amazon Fire in our house.)
If you struggle with your kids always asking to watch more, I’d recommend setting guidelines or a timer.
Here’s a tip: Don’t set a timer for 1 hour. No shows last 1 hour! Instead set it for 25 minutes or 50 minutes, or the correct time amount of what your kids are watching. It’s way more effective asking them to turn it off after an episode is finished.
Analyze The Risks And Benefits Of A Child’s Apps & Smartphones
I think as parents we often just hand over the tablet, and actually don’t watch what our kids are watching in front of a screen. Are the apps they are using to their benefit? Do they see not-kid-appropriate ads?
One rule we have in our house is that my kids can’t watch YouTube. I don’t mind most of the shows, but I hate the ads that come on. Even kid-friendly ads can be a mess sometime.
In the same vein, check out the channels they have access to on your television. Just one rogue channel with the remote can cause a lot of questions that maybe your kids aren’t ready for!
Choose The Best Screen For Your Family
Don’t know what screen is best for your family? Check out our favorites here!
Fire HD 8 Kids Tablet
Let’s talk tablets.
We finally bought one for our family, and spent a lot of time researching. Kids tablets? iPads?
We finally settled on the Amazon Fire for kids, because of a few reasons:
- It is cheaper than other options (especially over Black Friday!), so I don’t mind if my kids toss it around
- It is a good “learning tool” for them to learn a tablet interface, before they jump into larger devices
- It already comes preloaded with content for the first month. I love downloading kids shows, but was really impressed with the repertoire.
- We also have Disney Plus on the tablet, which I feel is a little better than the pre-loaded items. I love the old Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse shows!
- To prevent my kids from becoming possessive and addicted, I only bought one so they could share it. And, I bought the blue one so my daughter didn’t think it was just hers!
- They have a 2 year warranty if anything breaks
Why do I like it? I am able to VERBALLY call my mother “Hey Portal, call Grandma!” and the Portal will connect and let my kids run around and talk to their grandparents while I make dinner.
It pans and zooms in, so grandparents can see the kids while they are playing cars, and running in circles.
It can “babysit” my kids while I work. My daughter can have play time or story time with her grandpa…all by herself with no parent aid.
I can call my kids’ great-grandma (who is 90!) who has WhatsApp, and she can see my kids from her phone.
We bought one for our grandparents, and will probably give more this Christmas.
Bonus: I use it play music, watch YouTube videos, and do Zoom calls – its a great screen for your kitchen!
Tips for a good deal:
- These go on great sale on Black Friday.
- Get an older version on Amazon that works just as well for a cheaper price.
- We also got a new one for sale on Facebook Marketplace at a steal. Check there and Craigslist!
- If you don’t want to wait for a backordered one from Facebook’s website, Amazon has faster delivery times.
A Successful Strategy to Try at Home
- Switch off all screens during meal-times and family outings.
- Keep non-screen zones in your home.
- Turn off screens an hour before bedtime and keep them out of bedrooms.
- Try to avoid using them as a pacifier. Just like a regular soother, this habit will be hard to break in the long run.
- Use parental controls if you feel it’s necessary.
- Teach your kids how to stay safe online.
- Engage with your child to find out what he/she likes watching or playing. If you’re not happy with the content they consume, explain why and give them alternatives.
My Advice To Parents for Recommended Screen Time by Age
Know your family. Know your kids.
Do what’s best for YOUR kids!
Don’t let the internet, your friends, or even some child official doctor person tell you what’s best for your kids. Do you need more screen time? That’s OK. Do you want a screen-free house? That’s ok too!
Think about what your kids needs, and find a solution that fits you.
Leave a comment below sharing your favorite recommended screen time by age tips for families!