Our Kids and Media Use

4/19/2018 | Kathryn Gathof, MD

We know that the hours kids spend in front of screens (phones, TVs, video games, computers) can contribute to pediatric obesity, poor sleep, and mental health issues. However, screens can also provide education, social interaction, and entertainment and can be beneficial in appropriate settings and dosing.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released recommendations for media usage by children. Some highlights include:

  • Children younger than age 2 should not have any screen time, with the exception of interactive video chats and rare educational apps. Instead, focus on reading, interactive activities, and hands on learning.
  • Starting at age 3-5 years, high quality educational TV programs (i.e. Sesame Street) can be used in moderation.
  • Excessive passive screen time in young children can delay speech and development, and can have a detrimental effect on parent-child relationships.
  • The AAP recommends no more than 2 hours of screen time for any child of any age.
  • Get electronics out of the bedroom – having a TV in a child’s bedroom is associated with obesity and the blue wavelengths from screens can disrupt sleep.
  • Have candid conversations with your child and teen about concerning social media, internet, and computer content (i.e. cyberbullying, inappropriate sexual content, drug/alcohol promotion, violent content etc) and monitor your child’s usage to ensure it is appropriate and does not put your child’s privacy or safety at risk.
  • Parents’ screen habits influence their children – parents and caretakers who are on their phones or watching TV (or even having it on in the background) around their kids are more likely to be distracted and have less verbal and nonverbal communication with their children. Show your kids that you try to limit your screen time as well, and that you prioritize your time with your family – turn off the electronics!

For more information, check out the AAP’s Policies:

Talk with your child's pediatrician if you have questions or concerns about your child’s media use. 

Similar Articles

Talking to Your Kids About Coronavirus

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues, your kids are hearing about it. If you want to make sure they get reliable information and for them to hear it from you, we can help you get the conversation started.

Find Out More

Pediatric Overuse Injuries

For pediatric patients, it’s common to see overuse injuries in children that intensely participate in sports.

Read Our Article

Medicine Dosages Made Easy

Not sure about how much medicine to give to your child? See our chart with recommended dosage amounts.

View Dosage Chart

Share This Article

Follow Us

Health Library

Discover more articles in our Health Library.

View the Library