Screen Time and Your Child: How Much is Too Much?


These days, screens are hard to avoid. We rely on them for work, entertainment and social interaction. And it’s not all bad – sharing photos of our little ones online has never been easier, which is a blessing for those far away from loved ones. But our children’s generation is the first to grow up using computers, iPads and smart phones, and there is concern over what it is doing to their growing brains. 

No Screen Time Under Two 

The American Association of Pediatrics says that screens should be completely avoided for children under two years old. At this age, screens provide no educational advantage; on the contrary, they are interruptive and distracting. Babes primarily need two things: quality time with caregivers or early childhood teachers for learning social skills, and hands-on toys that help them develop tactile skills. 

Up to an Hour for Older Kids 

For a child between two and five, less than an hour of screen time daily is recommended. High quality educational shows and apps indeed help with literacy and cognition, but they should be limited as too much screen time interferes with the hands-on skills that they are still coming to grips with. 

Overuse can lead to overweight children, disordered sleep and behavioural difficulties including short attention spans, aggression, hyperactivity and trouble understanding social cues. 

Management Plan 

Our engaging teachers at Learning Tree childcare centre in Silverdale do a great job of helping children develop necessary skills without screens. But if you are afraid you’ve been exceeding these guidelines at home, perhaps it’s time to think about ways to limit screen time. 

Here are a few tips to get you started: 

  • Set a timer and as soon as it goes off take the gadget away
  • Decide ahead of time which apps, games or shows will be watched on a given day
  • Go old school: play board games, send the kids outside, go for a family walk
  • Record your screen time – the hours can creep up on you!
  • Come up with “Screen Free Day” challenges for the family
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