How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Kids?

Children’s media exposure remains a hot topic among educators, parents, and child advocates concerned about the impact of screen time on young minds. Just last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released new guidelines regarding the appropriate amount of entertainment-based screen time for kids.

According to the guidelines, children should be limited to less than two hours of entertainment-based screen time per day, and shouldn’t have TVs or Internet access in their bedrooms. As these guidelines suggest, there’s a big difference between media use for entertainment versus learning.

APP noted in a statement on the guidelines that kids can learn many positive things from pro-social media.

A healthy approach to children’s media use should both minimize potential health risks and foster appropriate and positive media usein other words, it should promote a healthy media diet’, said Marjorie Hogan, MD, FAAP, co-author of the AAP policy. Parents, educators and pediatricians should participate in media education, which means teaching children and adolescents how to make good choices in their media consumption.

Dr. Melissa King, Director of Early Learning and Product Advancement for K12, said the APP’s new guidelines are similar to those released by other highly respected organizations in the early childhood arena. For instance, last year’s position statement from the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media suggests that technology and interactive media in early childhood programs can support learning when they rest upon solid developmental foundations and are carefully balanced with other activities. Aware of both the challenges and the opportunities of today’s technology, early childhood educators are well-positioned to improve program quality by intentionally leveraging the rich potential of interactive 21st century media and digital technology for the benefit of every child, King notes.

The AAP’s voice reflects a chorus of concern among early childhood professionals regarding screen time, King said. The issue is not just how much time’ but what children are doing’ during that time. In other words, passively sitting in front of a TV is not the same as actively engaging with educationally sound media that includes developmentally appropriate interaction.

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