Screen time and children
"Screen time" is a term used for activities done in front of a screen, such as watching TV, working on a computer, or playing video games. Screen time is sedentary activity, meaning you are being physically inactive while sitting down. Very little energy is used during screen time.
Most American children spend about 3 hours a day watching TV. Added together, all types of screen time can total 5 to 7 hours a day.
Too much screen time can:
Screen time increases your child's risk for obesity because:
Computers can help kids with their schoolwork. But surfing the internet, spending too much time on Facebook, or watching YouTube videos is considered unhealthy screen time.
Current Screen Time Guidelines
Children under age 2 should have no screen time.
Limit screen time to 1 to 2 hours a day for children over age 2.
Despite what ads may say, videos that are aimed at very young children do not improve their development.
How to Decrease Screen Time
Cutting down to 2 hours a day can be hard for some children because TV may be such a large part of their daily routines. But you can help your children by telling them how sedentary activities affect their overall health. Talk to them about things they can do to be healthier.
To decrease screen time:
Gahagan S. Overweight and obesity. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 47.
Strasburger VC, Jordan AB, Donnerstein E. Health effects of media on children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2010;125(4):756-767. PMID: 20194281 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20194281.
Review Date: 4/24/2017
Reviewed By: Liora C. Adler, MD, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, Hollywood, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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