Reduce Screen Time for Children

In the digital age, children are exposed to screens more than ever before. This can have both positive and negative effects on their development, health, and well-being. As parents and caregivers, it's important to understand the impact of screen time and take steps to minimize its potential risks. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the latest research and best practices for reducing screen time for children.

The Impact of Screen Time on Children

Cognitive Development

  • Excessive screen time can interfere with cognitive development, particularly in young children.
  • Studies have found associations between screen time and lower language skills, attention deficit, and cognitive function.
  • Fast-paced or violent content can negatively impact executive function and decision-making abilities.

Psychosocial Development

  • Screen time can limit opportunities for face-to-face interactions and social learning.
  • Excessive screen use has been linked to increased risk of social isolation, self-reported victimization, and antisocial behaviors.
  • Parents' own use of mobile technology can distract them from interacting meaningfully with their children.

Physical Health

  • Screen time can promote a sedentary lifestyle and increase the likelihood of obesity and overweight.
  • Sedentary screen use is associated with lower physical activity levels and reduced cardiorespiratory fitness.
  • Screen time before bedtime can disrupt sleep patterns and reduce sleep duration.

Guidelines for Screen Time

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Recommendations:

  • Under 18 months: Avoid screens (other than video-chatting).
  • 18-24 months: Limit screen time to only introducing them to occasional educational pieces.
  • 2-5 years: Limit screen time to 1 hour per day while co-viewing media.
  • 6+ years: No set limit, but place consistent limits on time using media, types of media, and where media usage is taking place.
  • Tweens and Teens: No set limit but engage in conversations with your kids about their media use and who they are communicating with.

Remember: These guidelines are suggestions. The overall goal is to build a healthy relationship with screens. Too much of anything isn't healthy.

Practical Strategies for Reducing Screen Time

Establish Screen-Free Zones and Times

  • Create a screen-free sleep zone to ensure restful sleep.
  • Establish daily "screen-free" times, such as during meals, family time, and an hour before bedtime.

Set Screen Time Limits

  • Track your child's screen time and set daily limits that align with the AAP recommendations.
  • Use parental control tools to enforce screen time restrictions.

Encourage Other Activities

  • Provide alternative activities that are more engaging and rewarding, such as reading, playing outdoors, or engaging in creative play.
  • Model healthy alternatives by participating in these activities yourself.

Mindful Screen Use

  • Engage with your children while they're using screens.
  • Discuss the content, ask questions, and encourage critical thinking.
  • Encourage self-regulation skills by helping children learn to limit their own screen time.

Collaboration and Communication

  • Involve your child in setting screen time limits and rules.
  • Discuss the importance of screen time moderation as a family.
  • Seek professional help if you're struggling to manage your child's screen time.

Additional Tips for Parents and Caregivers

  • Take Small Steps: Gradually reduce screen time over time to avoid resistance.
  • Be Consistent: Stick to screen time rules and avoid making exceptions.
  • Model Healthy Habits: Show your children that you can use screens in moderation too.
  • Encourage Physical Activity: Schedule regular physical activity breaks throughout the day.
  • Promote Social Interaction: Encourage your child to spend time with friends and family in non-screen-related activities.
  • Seek Support: Join support groups or connect with other parents who are trying to reduce screen time.


Reducing screen time for children is essential for their cognitive, social-emotional, and physical well-being. By understanding the impact of screen time, following evidence-based guidelines, and implementing practical strategies, parents and caregivers can help their children establish healthy relationships with technology and enjoy the many benefits that childhood has to offer.