• Children's Center

    Stressed about your child’s screen time? Here’s what a Mayo Clinic expert recommends

For decades, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has been studying the effects screens and media have on children. It's natural for parents and caregivers to be concerned about how much screen time their children are getting, especially when digital screens are everywhere, even at school. Dr. Nusheen Ameenuddin, a Mayo Clinic pediatrician and member of the AAP, shares some recommendations to make it simple for families to manage their technology use.

Watch: Dr. Nusheen Ameenuddin shares screen time recommendations

Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites with Dr. Ameenuddin are available in the downloads at the end of the post. Please courtesy: "Mayo Clinic News Network" Name super/CG: Nusheen Ameenuddin, M.D./Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine/Mayo Clinic.

"The key thing that I would want all parents to know is that screens aren't all good or all bad. A lot of this depends on how you use screens," says Dr. Ameenuddin.

Screen time recommendations

Dr. Ameenuddin says there's no evidence that television shows or screen time for young kids have any benefit. Therefore, it's best to try to avoid screen time for kids under 2 years old, with the exception of video chatting with grandparents or other relatives.

"For kids who are between 2 and 5 years of age, no more than about one hour of high-quality educational content, ideally with little to no commercial time," she says.

For kids 5 and older, it's a little more nuanced.

"Once kids are 5 years and older, and they're in school, we used to say no more than two hours of screen time a day of noneducational content. But we understand that that's hard to do. And then oftentimes kids are using screens for really good reasons, for doing schoolwork. So really, what we've started to say is let's make sure it is not taking the place of other important activities, whether that's schoolwork or physical activity, and certainly sleep," says Dr. Ameenuddin.

Potential benefits

"There is potentially a benefit for children in the preschool age with high-quality educational content. There are wonderful shows that have been around for decades that are really focused on teaching kids," she says.

Dr. Ameenuddin says a little bit of high-quality television can help kids learn about other people and cultures.

"There was actually a study done, and as much as we talk about how we don't want to spend a lot of time in front of screens, there is a benefit. There can be diversity enhancement. When children see children of other backgrounds playing with each other, they're actually more likely to say, when shown a group of pictures, that they might want to play with a child of a different background from what they might be used to or from their own background," says Dr. Ameenuddin.

Resources

One of the resources Dr. Ameenuddin recommends for finding quality media content is Common Sense Media. It's a resource that includes ratings and reviews of TV shows, movies, video games, podcasts and more.

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