Screens and electronics are becoming increasingly present in our children’s lives. Televisions, smartphones, gaming systems, laptops, and tablets are easily available to most children and teens. This creates a difficult position for parents who want to limit their child’s screen time but don’t want to face a battle. Many parents often ask, “How much screen time is too much? Is it really that bad?” New research has the answers.

In a recent study from San Diego State University, even 1 hour of daily screen time was found to have an effect on children and teens. With 1 hour of daily use, children and teens show lower self-control and less emotional stability. However, most youths are not limited to 1 hour of daily use, and instead, they spend an average of 5 to 7 hours of leisure time on screens everyday. This screen time was found to have significant impacts on youths:

  • Teens who spend over 7 hours on screens daily are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression and anxiety than those who only spend 1 hour on screens
  • Even 4 hours daily can result in lower emotional well-being than 1 hour of daily use
  • Preschoolers who were allowed a lot of screen time lost their temper twice as often and had more difficulty calming down when excited than those who had less screen time
  • Adolescents aged 11-17 with high screen use (7 hours or more) were less likely to finish tasks and less interested in learning new things

Overall, these findings support the need for limitations on screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends screen time be limited to 1 hour daily for children aged 2 to 5. For older children and adolescents, some organizations recommend limiting screen time to 2 hours daily. It is also important to keep consistent limits around screen time and limit media use in children’s bedrooms or without supervision.