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Screen Time

Try to limit screen time for kids 2 and up to 30 minutes a week.

Let’s face it — sometimes it’s easier to get something done if you sit kids down in front of a TV screen to watch a show or a movie. But moderation of “screen time” (which includes TV, videos, DVDs, computers, video games, and handheld devices) is key for healthy development and staying active.

Try for no more than 30 minutes a week for young kids during child care.

When kids (ages 2 through 5 years old) are in child care, they should get no more than 30 minutes total the entire week (not per day). Granted, it's something you might not be able to achieve right away — but make this your goal. (At home, children should have no more than 1 to 2 hours of screen time per day.)

Babies and toddlers should have no screen time at all.

Avoid TV time for toddlers and babies.

Not too long ago, moms and child care providers all over the country were buying and showing videos and DVDs galore geared entirely toward the infant audience. But now we know that babies and even toddlers (ages 0 to 2 years old) shouldn’t get any screen time at all — zero, not even a few minutes here and there.

So why should we restrict screen time for kids?

  • The first 2 years of life are a critical time for brain development. Spending time in front of a screen can get in the way of exploring, playing, and interacting with grown-ups and their tiny peers — all of which encourage learning and healthy physical and social development.
  • As children get older, too much screen time can interfere with being physically active, reading, doing homework, playing with friends, and spending time with family.
  • Kids who consistently spend too much time watching TV are more likely to be obese or overweight.

 

When Kids Are in Front of the Screen

At any age, here are some things to keep in mind about TV, videos, DVDs -- anything involving a screen:

 
Avoid watching while eating (snacks or meals).

Kids might seem calm when they’re engrossed in a show as they chow down. But they’re usually far more focused on the screen than eating. So they may eat very little, if anything, and miss out on filling up their bellies with good food — giving them less energy to play and learn. Plus, zoning out at the table doesn’t give children the opportunity to interact with their peers and learn valuable social skills and table manners.

 
Make it "quality" programming.

Whenever the young kids in your care do get screen time, just make sure it’s for educational purposes only. A lot of the learning shows and DVDs on the market today weave the developmentally appropriate academic messages in so seamlessly that kids don’t even realize they’re getting some knowledge along with the entertainment.

Case in point: "The Get Healthy Now Show" (produced by Sesame Workshop, Nemours, and Nemours’ KidsHealth.org) — which uses kids' favorite Sesame Street characters to teach healthy habits in under 30 minutes.

You can check out the show (it's below the video of First Lady Michelle Obama with Elmo.)

 
Work with parents.

You can help educate moms and dads about screen time by sharing information. You don’t have to preach about the do’s and don’ts. Just occasionally post resources about screen time on your bulletin board or your Facebook page — or include a little something about it in your monthly or seasonal newsletter. Suggest some quality educational shows and videos/DVDs you’d recommend.

Tools & Resources

Useful Ideas:

From Nemours' KidsHealth.org:

 

Strive to limit children's screen time.

Strive for:

  • No screen time for kids under age 2
  • 30 minutes or less weekly for ages 2 and up during child care
  • No more than 1-2 hours daily at home