Screen Time Durations

Screen Time Durations

by Dr. Rebecca Butler, who is Board Certified in Pediatrics by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is proud to be a resident of Lantana and the owner of Lantana Pediatrics. For more information on Dr. Butler or to schedule an appointment, call 940.455.7200.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has new children’s health recommendations for screen time in 2017.

Previously the AAP set a general screen time limit of no more than two hours in front of the TV for kids over age 2. Today, in a world surrounded by digital media 24/7, defining screen time is difficult. The argument is that a “blanket statement [of two hours] of screen time” does not work any longer. The new guidelines identify screen time as time spent using digital media for entertainment purposes. Other uses of media, such as online homework, don’t count as screen time.

Tips for parents for healthy digital media use:

Parents are children’s main role models, so it’s important for moms and dads to have healthy digital media habits. This means being conscious of setting down cellphones, turning off the TV and shutting laptops at night.

With phones off the dinner table, families can have in-person conversations, which are very important for children’s development.

And, very importantly, talk to kids about the risks of digital media — including cyberbullying, sexting, online predators, etc.

For help constructing a digital media plan for the whole family, the AAP recommends using the Family Media Plan tool, which can be found at

Infants 18 months and younger: No screen time
For parents with infants, cutting off technology completely can be challenging. But banning screen time for babies is important for brain development and healthy parent-child connections.

Children 2 to 5 years: One hour per day
The AAP recommends that “parents prioritize creative, unplugged playtime for infants and toddlers,” according to its press release. Children this age can be introduced to screens, but only for one hour a day.

The type of media they are exposed to is critical: only high-quality programs, such as “Sesame Street” and other PBS shows should be viewed.

Toddler-aged kids haven’t developed the cognitive skills to understand advertisements or animations. Children at this age cannot decipher between real-world people and fictional cartoons.

While cartoons get a thumbs-down, the academy supports toddlers using face-to-face interactive media, such as Skype or Face-time.

Children 6 years and older: Limit digital media
Parents are in charge of setting limits on digital media for kids and teens six and older, the academy says. The amount of daily screen time depends on the child and family, but children should prioritize productive time over entertainment time.

The academy agrees that digital media should never replace healthy activities, particularly sleep, social interaction and physical activity. Kids and teens have access to thousands of apps, film streaming sites, video games and social media on multiple devices.

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