What is a safe plan for screen time for kids?

Technology has become an integral part of our everyday lives. But despite its many uses and benefits, many are questioning its widespread use, particularly in young children. Research suggests that the use of technology/screen time hinders overall development for children, contributes to cognitive and emotional delays, and is also associated with obesity, sleep loss and reduced attention span. Even with these potential risks, many parents fear their kids will lag behind if they are not introduced to technology soon enough.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has been working hard to create current guidelines to better advise parents on safe technology use for their children. The research, and therefore the guidelines, are being continuously developed and updated as the findings from the current long-term studies are published. The link below is a video of a round table discussing several goals of the newest guidelines.

  • 0-18 months: Avoid use as much as possible. Technology for the use of communication such as video-chatting is likely okay.
  • 18-24 months: Children are old enough to interact with technology, but use should still be limited. Many experts emphasize the importance of choosing high quality, educational media. It is also wise to watch content with children in order to help them understand what is being watched.  
  • 2 to 5 years: Screen should be limited to 1 hour per day, emphasizing high-quality program/media. Co-watching with parents is also advised at this stage as well.
  • 6 and older: There should be consistent limits on the time spent using technology, with focus on the different types of media. Screen time should not take the place of adequate sleep, being outside, interacting with children, and physical activity. 
  • Many experts advocate for designated media-free times together, such as dinner or driving (this also teaches good driving habits. Don’t text and drive). Technology-free locations at home, such as bedrooms and communal living spaces, are also advised.
  • Proper and safe use of technology and online media should be an ongoing communication. Children learn and emulate parental activity, so leading by example is important.  

More specific to spinal health, limiting technology use can also benefit your back. Poor posture, or” tech neck” is becoming more and more prevalent. Too much screen time both hinders the proper development of our normal postural muscles, and works to degrade the proper head and back posture. At Burkhart & Chapp, our doctors treat many patients with conditions like tech neck, which could be prevented or minimized with earlier treatment and better home education. To learn more, schedule an appointment or check out the links below.

Learn more about Tech Neck


Learn more about screen time recommendations