Kids and Screens: Screen Time Limits by Age
Screen time limits have caused a lot of headache to modern parents who raise their kids in a technological era during which screens are to be found everywhere! Many parents try to keep their children “screen-proof” for some years, however as kids grow older technology is getting more and more into their lives. Finding resources to study online, using educational apps, playing video games, chatting on social media – with so many activities available online, how can a parent set the proper screen time limits for their kid? Luckily, there are specific instructions for toddlers and young kids provided by scientists. But what about screen time limits for older kids? Let’s find out!
Screen time limits for kids 6-12 years old
First of all, let us clarify once again that when talking about screen time, we are referring not only to time spent on a mobile phone or a tablet, but also to sitting in front of a laptop or a TV. So, when calculating the time your kid will spend in front of a screen, you should also include the time they will spend watching their favorite show or searching for information for a school project.
As far as mobile apps are concerned, kids can have some unsupervised time, provided that you have ensured that these apps are appropriate for their needs and age. You should also make sure that they support the Parental Control feature to limit any possible risk of your kid leaving the app and visiting other sites. If they wish to play some online games, it’s time to educate your children on the use and the risks of the internet. Give them clear instructions on how to be safe online, set specific rules on what they are and aren’t allowed to do, ask them questions and encourage discussion on what they are doing online. Show them that you’re interested in their activities and that they can trust and talk to you. You can also make a family screen time contract with your kids. Having all the above in mind, a total of two hours of screen time per day seems to be enough for kids under twelve years old.
Screens and teens
Setting limits to teenagers is difficult in general, let alone setting screen time limits! At this age, apart from playing games and watching shows, kids mostly use the internet to socialize and keep in touch with friends, so putting limits to their screen time may become the cause of a lot of frustration. However, this does not mean that you shouldn’t put any limits at all. What you should do is define the limits that work for your kid based on what they tend to spend their screen time on. For example, if they need two hours to study some resources online, you may allow them some fun screen time too. However, if they spend two hours watching a TV program, they may spend the rest of their free time doing something more physical.
Is screen time healthy for my kids?
It depends. As with any other type of activity, activities that require the use of a screen can be healthy and beneficial, as long as kids perform them in moderation. You have nothing to worry about provided that your kids do not replace other activities that are crucial for their development with “screen activities”.
More specifically, you should make sure that screen time does not prevent your kid from:
- getting enough sleep
- having friends and interacting with people offline
- being physically active
- having a lot of hobbies and enjoying a variety of other activities
- doing well at school
As long as the above are true for kid, you can rest assured that you have implemented screen time in a healthy way!