a female child with headphones on, watching something on a tablet
Children ages 11 to 13 should only have two hours of screen time per day.

Screen Time for Kids: How Much Should My Child Be Getting

In today’s modern setup, parents may find it challenging to control the amount of screen time children can have. This is especially true as screens are now easily accessible to anyone. Although it does a good job keeping the young ones occupied so you can take a breather, you may still worry if letting your kids have too much screen time will have a negative impact on them in the long run.

In this article, we will discuss the appropriate amount of screen time your kids should have, the pros and cons of it, and age-appropriate alternative activities for your kids to do off-screen.

Starting at the age of two, limited screen time can be beneficial for a child’s development. The appropriate screen time per age may vary, and it is imperative that we supervise what they watch to filter out any content that may be inappropriate. However, keep in mind that screen time should be more of a side-activity and not be used as a substitute for playing, reading and experiential learning.

Following normal development stages, the rule of thumb is that the younger the child, the less screen time they should be getting. This time is gradually increased by small increments as they get older. After all, digital literacy is something that we should encourage as well.

Recommended Screen Time by Age

18 months and below: no screen time recommended

Infants may have no understanding of electronics. Therefore, no amount of screen time is recommended for this particular age. Although there is no harm in letting your kid join you on occasional video chats.

18 to 24 months: little to none

This is a crucial developmental stage for children of this age, both physically and cognitively. It is important to encourage both physical and cognitive interactions and avoid screen time as much as possible.

If you do allow your kid to have a little time on-screen, make sure that it’s limited to less than an hour. Use this to direct them to media with quality educational content appropriate for their age. Also, provide them with guidance so they understand what they are seeing.

Three to Five years old: one hour of screen time a day

At this point, screen times can be a useful way to calm or distract children. But it is important that you avoid using this method habitually.

This is also an age where they can already be familiar with certain pop-culture characters, or even have a favorite one. Mindfully guide your child to understand what they are seeing and how it should be related to their surroundings. A lot of digital pop-culture these days have associated printed versions and toys. Use this as another way for your kid to interact with their favorite character off-screen.

Six to 10 years old: One to One-and-a-half hours a day

Children should now be entering a school at this age, making it a challenge to balance their study and screen time. This is where you come in to guide them on how to manage their time and place consistent limits on on-screen media. It is also important that you make sure that their screen time won’t interfere with their physical activities, sleep and health in general.

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11 to 13 years old: two hours per day

At this stage, children should be given enough responsibility to manage their screen time without supervision. However, we should still be able to guide them in figuring out how to manage their schedule. If you notice your child is starting to get hooked to a particular T.V. show, YouTube channel, game or social media app, gently try to help them understand how moderating this activity would benefit them.

Pros and Cons of Screen Time

Growing up with the availability of digital technologies can have both positive and negative effects on a child’s development.

Here are some notable positive aspects:

  • It can make learning easier for them as it is easily accessible and can be more engaging.
  • With the right guidance, it can be used to develop healthy habits.
  • Digital media makes it easier to communicate.

On the other hand, here are some of the negative sides:

  • Screen time lessens the time spent on physical activities.
  • It can discourage personal interactions, which can stunt the growth of a child’s social skill development.
  • At an age where they absorb as much information as they can, they may retain incorrect ideas as screens have no ability to correct any confusions a child may have.

Off-Screen Activities

There are several screen time guidelines by age and other resources readily available on the internet. However, it is important to remember that you should always use your judgement if there is a need to deviate from what is recommended.

Although it is important for our children to be familiarized with the technology around them, it is best that we encourage them to learn through personal experiences.

Here are some activities you can have your kids do during their off-screen time:

  • Physical activities and play
  • Personal social interactions
  • Learn a musical instrument, if it’s age appropriate.
  • Read age-appropriate stories, learning books or even novels.

There are a lot of other off-screen activities your kids can do. Whatever it may be, it is important that us parents are there to guide them and provide them with feedback. Being a good example to your child by showing how you balance your own personal use of digital media, is also a good way of encouraging kids to do off-screen activities. You can even do off-screen activities together!

Without a doubt, the progress of technology has become evident in our daily lives. But when it comes to our children, nothing beats learning through playing with others and just letting our kids be kids.

Let us know what activities you have your kids do when they’re not on their screens.