Toddlers and Screen Time: How Much is Too Much? (2023)

When it comes to toddlers and screen time, it can be hard to know how much is too much. With tablets and smartphones becoming increasingly common, and more and more apps and games available for kids, it’s important for parents to be aware of the potential risks of too much screen time for their toddler. In this blog post, we will look at the potential impacts of excessive screen time for toddlers and provide some guidance on how to make sure that your child’s screen time is managed appropriately.

(Video) Too much screen time may be damaging kids' eyesight

The AAP recommends no screen time for children under 18 months
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under 18 months should have no screen time whatsoever. This is due to the fact that infants and toddlers learn best through hands-on play and exploration, not from staring at a screen. A baby's brain develops rapidly during their first year of life, and it's important to make sure they are provided with activities that encourage their growth and development, not hinder it.
It's also important to note that young children need plenty of physical activity in order to reach their milestones. Babies should be encouraged to explore the environment around them, including toys, books, and other objects that stimulate curiosity and movement. Allowing them to engage with these items will help them gain the skills they need to navigate the world and develop physically and mentally.
Ultimately, it's important for parents to remember that screen time is not a substitute for play or learning activities. While screens may provide some short-term entertainment, they can’t replace the lasting educational benefits of hands-on exploration and playtime with parents.

For children 18-24 months, screen time should be limited to 1 hour per day
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that toddlers 18-24 months have no more than one hour of quality screen time per day. This includes both interactive and non-interactive activities, such as educational programming or video chatting with relatives.
It is important to choose high-quality programming for your toddler. For example, programs such as Sesame Street and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood are designed for young children, and can help them learn about numbers, shapes, colors, and more. It is also important to be actively engaged in the experience: ask questions about what your child is seeing and follow their lead in exploring the program.
It is also recommended that toddlers have breaks from screens throughout the day. This gives them time to explore their environment, practice problem-solving, and interact with people and objects around them. Studies have shown that too much screen time can affect a toddler’s attention span, development, language, and motor skills.
Remember that quality screen time should supplement other activities and not replace them. While some structured programming is beneficial for toddlers, it’s important to also provide plenty of free playtime, outdoor activities, and social interactions with peers and adults.

(Video) Why Screen Time For Kids Needs To Be Controlled

For children 2-5 years old, screen time should be limited to 2 hours per day
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents limit screen time for children 2-5 years old to 2 hours per day. This limit should include both educational content, such as interactive apps and videos, as well as entertainment-focused content.
Young children can benefit from interactive educational programs, but only when used in moderation. Excessive screen time can be linked to sleep problems, poor diet, and decreased physical activity. Too much passive media viewing has also been linked to a decrease in attention span and language development.
If you decide to incorporate screen time into your child's daily routine, there are some strategies you can use to help them get the most out of their experience while minimizing potential negative effects. Choose educational content that is age-appropriate, interactive, and encourages exploration and problem-solving. Monitor your child's usage and talk to them about the content they are viewing. Lastly, plan activities away from screens such as outdoor play, reading, and art projects.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your child gets the most out of their screen time while limiting the potential negative effects.

For children 6 years old and up, there is no set limit on screen time, but it should be balanced with other activities
Screen time for older children can be beneficial when it is used in moderation. When it comes to screen time for 6 year-olds and up, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend a specific amount of time, but instead recommends that parents establish balance between screen time and other activities.
Encouraging active play and limiting sedentary activities like screens can be important for children’s overall health. Screens can have a negative impact on physical activity, sleep, cognitive development, and social interactions. For this reason, it’s important to limit the amount of time children spend in front of screens while still allowing them some time to explore the digital world.
Ideally, parents should develop a plan with their children that includes daily activities and limits on the type of media consumed. They should also be mindful of the content that their children are accessing on the internet, television, or video games. When setting limits, parents should consider their children’s age, interests, and personality.
It’s also important to recognize that screen time can be educational as well as fun. Parents should try to encourage their children to use devices for educational purposes, such as researching a topic or playing educational games.
Parents should also set clear guidelines about when and where screens can be used. This will help ensure that screen time doesn’t interfere with other activities such as studying or engaging in physical activity.
Above all, parents should be aware that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for screen time for children 6 years old and up. It is important to take into consideration their child’s individual needs and interests when establishing limits on screen time.

(Video) How much screen time is ok for young children?

Tips for limiting screen time
1. Set firm limits – One of the most important things you can do to ensure that your child isn’t overdoing it with screen time is to set firm limits and stick to them. Establish a maximum amount of time that your child is allowed to be on screens each day, and keep track of how much time they actually spend on them.
2. Introduce alternative activities – Provide your child with fun alternatives to screen time so that they don’t feel like their options are limited. Go for a walk, bake a cake, play an instrument, or take on a craft project together – anything that will keep them occupied and away from screens!
3. Use parental controls – Use parental control settings to limit what your child can access on the internet, including age-appropriate content. You can also use apps and services like Qustodio or Bark to monitor your child’s online activity.
4. Limit technology in bedrooms – Make sure that your child’s bedroom is a technology-free zone by taking away phones, tablets, and computers at night. This will help ensure that your child gets the rest they need and limit their exposure to inappropriate content.
5. Get rid of distracting devices during meals – Eating should be a time to connect with family, not to focus on screens. When you sit down to have dinner, make sure all phones, tablets, and computers are put away.
6. Spend quality time together – Make an effort to spend quality time together away from screens and other distractions. Whether it’s playing a board game or going for a bike ride, it’s important for your child to have regular, quality interactions with you and other family members.
7. Be a good role model – Finally, be aware of how much time you’re spending on your own devices and take the lead when it comes to limiting your own screen time. If your child sees you constantly checking your phone or spending too much time online, they may follow your example.


Toddlers and Screen Time: How Much is Too Much? ›

In general, the less screen time the better! Children under 2 years of age really shouldn't be having any screen time. Toddlers over the age of 2 should be limited to no more than 1 hour of screen time a day!

How much screen time is enough for toddlers? ›

Developing screen time rules

If you introduce digital media to children ages 18 to 24 months, make sure it's high quality and avoid solo media use. For children ages 2 to 5, limit screen time to one hour a day of high-quality programming. As your child grows, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work as well.

How do I know if my toddler is getting too much screen time? ›

In particular, look for the “tired but wired” effect. In other words, the child is tired but can't sleep, similar to when they have had too much sugar or caffeine. Insomnia is a very common symptom of too much screen time.

What amount of screen time is unhealthy for kids? ›

For screen time, the guidelines recommend: no screen time for children younger than two years. no more than one hour per day for children aged 2–5 years. no more than two hours of sedentary recreational screen time per day for children and young people aged 5–17 years (not including schoolwork).

What counts as too much screen time? ›

Experts say adults should limit screen time outside of work to less than two hours per day. Any time beyond that which you would typically spend on screens should instead be spent participating in physical activity.

What is a healthy amount of screen time? ›

"Most experts agree that adults should limit screen time to less than two hours per day outside of work-related activities," Dr. Moghaddam says.

Does screen time affect toddler behavior? ›

It found that kids with more screen time had an 11% higher risk of more externalizing behavior problems like aggression or inattention.

Can screen time cause ADHD in toddlers? ›

Though screen time doesn't cause ADHD, some studies have suggested that children with ADHD may be at increased risk of developing a screen addiction. While parents of children with ADHD can try to be aware of their kid's screen time, most children's screen time falls short of addiction, according to Lightfoot.

What does screen addiction look like? ›

What does Screen Addiction look like? A loss of interest in other activities: Instead of wanting to read a book or go play sport, you just want to stay near your phone. Even if you are reading a book or having a conversation with someone, you find yourself constantly drawn back to your device.

What does the CDC recommend for screen time? ›

Limit screen time to half an hour per week of educational or physical activity programming for children 2 years or older; no screen time for children younger than 2 years. Have water accessible and available throughout the day.

Does TV count as screen time? ›

Any time a child spends looking at an electronic screen is considered screen time. This includes watching videos and television shows, playing video games, and using a computer, phone, or tablet.

How screens affect toddlers? ›

Research has shown that screen time inhibits young children's ability to read faces and learn social skills, two key factors needed to develop empathy. Face-to-face interactions are the only way young children learn to understand non-verbal cues and interpret them.

How do I reduce my 2 year old screen time? ›

Tips for reducing screen time
  1. Be accountable. Set expectations with your kids, and create goals to be intentional about reducing screen time. ...
  2. Be realistic. ...
  3. Be engaged. ...
  4. Put hand-held devices away. ...
  5. Create phone-free zones in the home. ...
  6. Go outside.
Apr 17, 2023

Can you reverse the effects of too much screen time? ›

Incorporate more movement, exercise and free play. While stress and screen time break down brain connectivity, exercise does the reverse — it builds connections and actually makes the brain bigger!

How screen time affects children? ›

One longitudinal study of 2,441 mothers and children, led by University of Calgary psychologist Sheri Madigan, PhD, found that more time per week spent on screens at ages 24 months and 36 months was linked with poorer performance on screening tests for behavioral, cognitive and social development at 36 months ( JAMA ...

Does listening to music count as screen time? ›

Whether you want to limit the time you're staring at your phone screen or are just curious how much time you spend on your phone, screen time tracking apps offer great information. But listening to podcasts do not count as screen time, so they will not show up as screen time on your tracking app.

How bad is 7 hours of screen time? ›

Adults who spend six hours or greater using screen time are more likely to suffer from moderate to severe depression. This increased use in screen time has been shown to be directly correlated with an increased chance of depression in adults.

Is 4 hours a bad screen time? ›

Spend three to four hours daily without any screens

People should spend at least three to four hours each day completely detached from screens, Christakis says. His research has found screen time affects children's language skills and is correlated with potential behavior problems.

Does screen time cause meltdowns? ›

There's actually a kind of crazy reason behind this: screen time (whether that's watching videos or playing games) activates their brains to a really high degree and increases their dopamine. This is the same dopamine rush addicts get while they're using their vice—and once that's taken away from them, they crash.

What is the science behind CoComelon? ›

“CoComelon is so hyper-stimulating that it acts as a drug, a stimulant. The brain receives a hit of dopamine from screen time, and it seems that the stronger the 'drug', the stronger the 'hit',” she told the publication.

What is ADHD look like in a toddler? ›

Toddlers with ADHD tend to be easily frustrated, moody, and even rude. They may worry too much or too long about even the smallest of things and have more difficulty transitioning. They're also extremely sensitive to corrective feedback – asking them to put on a coat to go outside can result in an angry scream.

What triggers ADHD in toddlers? ›

Risk factors

Blood relatives, such as a parent or sibling, with ADHD or another mental health disorder. Exposure to environmental toxins — such as lead, found mainly in paint and pipes in older buildings. Maternal drug use, alcohol use or smoking during pregnancy. Premature birth.

What symptoms does a child with ADHD display? ›

Symptoms in children and teenagers
  • having a short attention span and being easily distracted.
  • making careless mistakes – for example, in schoolwork.
  • appearing forgetful or losing things.
  • being unable to stick to tasks that are tedious or time-consuming.
  • appearing to be unable to listen to or carry out instructions.

How do I know if my toddler is addicted to TV? ›

9 signs of screen addiction in kids
  1. The dangers of too much screen time. ...
  2. Your child can't control their screen use. ...
  3. Loss of interest in other activities. ...
  4. It preoccupies their thoughts. ...
  5. It interferes with socializing. ...
  6. Screen use causes serious family problems. ...
  7. Your kid shows signs of withdrawal. ...
  8. Their tolerance is increasing.
Mar 17, 2023

How do I detox my child from video games? ›

7 Ways to Wean your Child off Video Games
  1. Play a video game with your child. ...
  2. For one week, keep a log of the time spent playing video games. ...
  3. Show them what that amount of time represents in other activities. ...
  4. Arrange active indoor or outdoor activities for your children and their friends.
Feb 8, 2011

What are the symptoms of screen dependency disorder? ›

According to Family Life and Child Development specialist and Early Childhood Education consultant Claudette Avelino-Tandoc, a child's screen dependency disorder may lead to insomnia, back pain, weight gain or loss, vision problems, headaches, anxiety, dishonesty, feelings of guilty, and loneliness.

What age group has the highest screen time? ›

To break that down further, children ages 8-10 spend around 6 hours per day in front of a screen. That number increases with age, as children 11-14 spend about 9 hours a day on screens, and teenagers 15-18 have an average screen time of 7.5 hours.

What does screen time do to your brain? ›

Screen time overloads the sensory system, fractures attention, and depletes mental reserves. Experts say that what's often behind explosive and aggressive behavior is poor focus. When attention suffers, so does the ability to process one's internal and external environment, so little demands become big ones.

What screen time does to a child's brain? ›

During adolescence, the cortex undergoes critical development. Screen time may affect its growth. A study called Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) revealed that some kids who use screens more than seven hours a day had a thinner cortex than those who used screens less.

How much TV is OK for 2 year old? ›

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no regular TV watching for children under the age of 2, and limiting TV time to around 1 to 2 hours a day for children over 2.

Does TV delay speech in toddlers? ›

Studies report a link between TV and language development in young children. The more time kids spend watching television, the more slowly they learn to talk.

Does screen time delay speech? ›

Research on the impact of media which differs from the child's first languages indicates that children may be negatively impacted and places the child 14.7 times more at risk of a language delay.

What happens when a toddler has too much TV? ›

Good evidence suggests that screen viewing before age 18 months has lasting negative effects on children's language development, reading skills, and short term memory. It also contributes to problems with sleep and attention.

What are two consequences of too much screen time? ›

Too much screen time can lead to obesity, sleep problems, chronic neck and back problems, depression, anxiety and lower test scores in children. Children should limit screen time to 1 to 2 hours per day. Adults should also try to limit screen time outside of work hours.

How long to detox from screen time? ›

To complete a full digital detox, Dr Kardaras recommends your child doesn't use their screen for 4-6 weeks. For a lot of parents, this might seem an impossible task.

Does screen time affect kids social behavior? ›

Screen time can also reduce person to person interactions and limit social skills. It is becoming more and more rare to see children using their imaginations or playing outside. Instead, it is becoming much more common to see a group of children engrossed in their tablets.

Does screen time affect kids memory? ›

Working memory tends to be worse in young children who spend more time on devices. The more time spent on screens (in this study that meant over 1 hour per day), the worse the scores on working memory. This is problematic for many reasons, as a strong working memory is needed for school and life success.

How screen time affects children's sleep behavior? ›

Several studies have found a significant relationship between average hours of sleep and technology use before bedtime. Children who watched TV or played video games at bedtime were recorded to get 30 minutes less of sleep than those who steered clear of screens for at least an hour before bed.

What is good screen time for 2 year old? ›

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends avoiding screens for children younger than 18 to 24 months, except when video chatting with family. The AAP also recommends limiting screen use for preschool children, ages 2 to 5, to just one hour a day of high-quality programming (think Sesame Street or PBS).

How much screen time is normal for 2 year olds? ›

Dr. Yousuf said pediatricians generally recommend the following guidelines: Under 2 years old: Zero screen time, except for video chatting with family or friends. 2-5 years old: No more than one hour per day co-viewing with a parent or sibling.

How much TV time is appropriate for a 2 year old? ›

Toddlers 18 months to 24 months old can start to enjoy some screen time with a parent or caregiver. Children this age can learn when an adult is there to reinforce lessons. By ages 2 and 3, it's OK for kids to watch up to 1 hour a day of high-quality educational programming.

What is the average screen time for a 3 year old? ›

Average screen time for kids ages 2 to 4 – 2 to 2.5 hours a day. Average screen time for kids ages 5 to 8 – Over 3 hours a day. Average screen time for tweens ages 8 to 12 – Almost 5 hours a day.

How can I reduce my toddler's TV time? ›

Tips for reducing screen time
  1. Be accountable. Set expectations with your kids, and create goals to be intentional about reducing screen time. ...
  2. Be realistic. ...
  3. Be engaged. ...
  4. Put hand-held devices away. ...
  5. Create phone-free zones in the home. ...
  6. Go outside.
Apr 17, 2023

Am I letting my toddler watch too much TV? ›

Too much screen time for toddlers may lead to unhealthy behaviors growing up, study says. Toddlers and young children who spend more than three hours a day viewing a screen, either watching TV or playing on a tablet, are more likely to be sedentary by the time they reach kindergarten-age, a new study found.

Can too much TV be bad for toddlers? ›

Studies show that kids who watch too much TV are more likely to be overweight — and, depending on the content of what they see, more aggressive. Too much media use is also linked to poor grades, sleep problems, and behavior problems.

What are the benefits of no screen time for toddlers? ›

The benefits of limiting screen time for your child would include, but are not limited to: improved sleep habits, better focus and brain function, increased academic success, decrease in obesity, better vision, and lower risk of anxiety and depression.

Is Cocomelon good for babies? ›

Some child development experts confirmed that the show is hyper-stimulating and can cause addiction as the result. Jerrica Sannes, an expert in early childhood, development and education, claimed the show was not only overstimulating, it's also likely to cause behavioral problems and attention disorders.

How screen time can affect a baby's developing brain? ›

But a new study suggests that too much screen time during infancy may lead to changes in brain activity, as well as problems with executive functioning — the ability to stay focused and control impulses, behaviors, and emotions — in elementary school.


1. Pediatrician Advice: Screen Time Effects On Children (Create ScreenTime Rules)
(PedsDocTalk TV)
2. Recommended Screen Time for Children and Adults
(Lake Health)
3. How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Kids? | Dad University
(Dad University)
4. How much screen time should my child have?
(Telethon Kids Institute)
5. Too Much Screen Time? | Screen Time and Children | Voyage Direct Primary Care
(Voyage Direct Primary Care)
6. Why it's important to manage screen time for children age 6 to 12
(Children's Wisconsin)
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