One of the challenges most parents struggle with is how much screen time is appropriate for their kids. It is hard not to throw on the TV or let the little ones run wild on Minecraft so you have time to make dinner, do the dishes, or get some extra work done. As the kids age, how do you prevent your child from playing Fortnite when everyone at school is engaged together?

The answers are not one sized fits all. Below are a collection of common questions and answers based on our research, with links for more information.

How much is too much screen time for a kid?

This is a question best answered by your doctor. Marley & Moose has a good list of resources to help you determine the right amount of screen time for your family, but the best resource we have found is the Family Media Planner by the American Association of Pediatrics.

What are symptoms of too much screen time?

Some kids can handle more screen time than others. Every child has other things going on in their lives that affect socio-emotional well being. With all this considered, too much screen time may mean different things to different children. According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are no specific symptoms of too much screen time, but a combination of any of the following may be worth a conversation with your doctor:

  • Being less physically active
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Headaches
  • Eye strain
  • Emotional changes
  • Lack of communication cues

Association between screen time and child development

In short, our research indicates that the amount of screen time any child gets from ages 24 months and older has less of an impact on a child’s development than the type of screen usage and the parental involvement in screen use. For a detailed breakdown with links to dozens of academic and medical journals and research, check out our breakdown of screen time and child development.

Can screen time be good for toddlers?

Possibly, but collectively the research appears inconclusive. Research has shown a number of both positive and negative outcomes in children who use screens. Notably, screen usage appears to be correlated with education level and socio-economic status, which may have more of an effect on child development than time in front of screens.

Educational programming, interactive games that encourage use of fine motor skills, and communication tools like FaceTime where children have the opportunity to connect with loved ones may have beneficial outcomes at all ages.

Is screen time bad for children?

Most research tends to reject the blanket statement that any and all screen time is bad for children, but also suggests that parent involvement is paramount. Monitored media usage seems fine as long as children also engage in appropriate activities away from the screen as well. Background media that interrupts family interaction such as dinner time, screen usage right before bedtime, and violence or otherwise unmonitored screen usage may contribute to socio-emotional challenges, behavior issues, or trouble sleeping.

How much screen time is right for an infant?

Most medical and academic research we have found points back to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations, which calls for no screen time at all for children until 18-24 months, with the exception of video chatting.

How much screen time is OK for a toddler?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends parents of children between 18 and 24 months should choose high quality programming and be present with children while watching.

How much screen time is right for a pre-school aged child?

The AAP suggests limiting screen time to one hour per day with high quality programming for children ages 2 to 5 years.

How much screen time is right for my older child?

The AAP recommends establishing limits on screen time and media usage. For a more personalized plan, refer to the Family Media Plan.