For some parents and caregivers, limiting their kids' screen time isn't easy. Dr. Angela Mattke, a Mayo Clinic pediatrician, says even though toddlers through teens may want to spend chunks of their day in front of a screen, too much screen time is not healthy.
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In this society, screens are everywhere. But how much screen time is too much for kids? It depends on a child’s age.
"The recommendations are really to minimize screen time in children before age 2," says Dr. Mattke. "Between ages 2 and 5, we would recommend you keep the screen time to one hour or less per day. And in children that are older than 5, we recommend trying to minimize a recreational or enjoyment-related screen time to two hours or less per day."
Two hours or less a day applies to teens, as well. But the recommendations do not include educational-related screen time.
"I would use the screen time as a reward," says Dr. Mattke. "Try not to use it as a punishment, but if you’re using it as a reward, it’s something they’re earning throughout the day for good behavior."
In limited amounts, the social aspect of screens can help teens feel connected, Dr. Mattke says. Too much screen time may interfere with sleep, increase the risk of depression, and increase the risk of obesity.
“There is a research study recently that showed for every hour per week increase of screen time, they saw increases in the BMIs [body mass indexes] of preschool-age children.”
She says the best way to help kids manage screen time is to be aware and communicate with them.