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Screen Time Rules for Kids: Age-by-Age Guide for Parents

In today’s digital age, screens have become an inevitable part of our lives and those of our children. From televisions to smartphones, tablets to gaming consoles, the digital world is at our children’s fingertips. But as a parent, you may often find yourself asking, “How much screen time is too much for my child?” This is a crucial question as excessive screen time can impact children’s physical health, social skills, and cognitive development.

Understanding the balance can be tricky, especially when the ‘right’ amount of screen time can change as your child grows. That’s why we’ve created this comprehensive age-by-age breakdown. In this guide, we’ll delve into the recommended screen time for each age group, from infancy to young adulthood, providing insights that can help you navigate your child’s digital journey. Whether your little one is captivated by cartoons or your teenager can’t put down their smartphone, this guide will help you establish healthy screen habits for your child. Let’s explore together!

Screen Time Rules for Kids:


  • Kids 0-1 Years Old (Infants)

    At this age, it is generally recommended to avoid screen time, other than video chatting. Babies need direct interactions with caregivers for their development. You can sing, read, and play games with them instead.

  • Kids 1-2 Years Old (Toddlers)

    Screen time for toddlers should be kept very minimal. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests limiting screen time to an hour per day of high-quality programming, supervised by an adult. This might include educational programming or apps that encourage creative play.

  • Kids 2-3 Years Old (Toddlers)

    At this age, children can benefit from a limited amount of high-quality educational screen time. Continue to limit total screen time to an hour a day, and ensure you’re co-viewing and interacting with your child during this time to help them understand what they’re seeing.

  • Kids 3-5 Years Old (Preschoolers)

    The recommendation is still to limit screen time to one hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.

  • Kids 6-8 Years Old (Middle Childhood)

    At this age, the focus should be more on the quality of the content and less on the screen time. You can gradually increase screen time to 1.5 hours per day, but make sure that it is not getting in the way of sleep, physical activities, or other behaviors essential for health.

  • Kids 9-11 Years Old (Middle Childhood)

    At this age, limit screen time to 2 hours per day, focusing on educational content and some entertainment. Encourage other activities and hobbies that don’t involve screens. Encourage them to be critical viewers of the media they consume.

  • Kids 12-14 Years Old (Young Teens)

    The screen time should be no more than 2-3 hours a day, excluding time for homework or school. Encourage physical activities, reading, and other non-screen activities. Continue to monitor the media they consume and discuss it with them.

  • Kids 15-17 Years Old (Teenagers)

    This age group should also limit recreational screen time to 2-3 hours a day. Encourage them to take regular breaks to avoid eye strain. Make sure that screen time does not interfere with adequate sleep, physical activity, and other behaviors essential to health.

  • Kids 18-21 Years Old (Young Adult)
    As young adults, they should start to self-regulate their screen time, ideally keeping it under 3 hours a day for recreational use. Encourage them to balance online and offline social activities and to maintain physical activities.

For all age groups, it’s important to create tech-free zones and times, such as during meals or a certain period before bedtime, to encourage face-to-face interaction and healthy sleep habits.