It really depends. Although the amount of time kids spend on screens has been a big news focus, what’s even more important is the quality of kids’ media and how it fits into their – and your family’s – lifestyle. Pay attention to how your kids act during and after watching TV, playing video games, or hanging out online. If they’re using high-quality, age-appropriate media; their behavior is positive; and their screen-time activities are balanced with plenty of healthy screen-free ones, there’s no need to worry.
If you’re concerned about heavy media use, consider creating a schedule that works for your family. This can include weekly screen-time limits, limits on the kinds of screens they can use, and guidelines on the types of activities they can do or programs they can watch. Make sure to get your kids’ input as well so the plan teaches media literacy and self-regulation, and use this as an opportunity to discover what they like watching, introduce new shows and apps for them to try, or schedule a family movie night.
Finally, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) – one of the only established organizations to make recommendations on screen time – discourages screen time for kids under 2 and advises limiting daily screen time to one to two hours for older kids. Studies have shown a link between heavy media use and issues such as obesity, lack of sleep, academic challenges, aggression, and other behavior difficulties. The reality is that most families will go through periods of heavy and light media use, but, so long as there’s a balance, kids should be just fine.