Screen Time and Digital Media

Screen Time and Digital Media
Posted on 02/01/2018

Article by Dr. Tyler Dirvonas

Everyday our children are exposed to an ever-expanding variety of media. From TVs to computers, smartphones and tablets, digital media and screen time can affect how children think, feel, learn and behave. Overuse of digital media can lead to poor sleep, obesity, delays in learning and social skills and behavior problems. Because of this, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends age-based limitations to screen time and digital media exposure for children.


Toddlers and Young Children:
Children younger than 2 years need hands-on exploration and social interaction with caregivers for optimal development. Infants and toddlers often do not transfer what they see on screen appropriately to true life experience compared to interactions with caregivers.

Children younger than 18 months – use of screen media should be limited to video-chatting with friends or relatives only.

Children 18 to 24 months – should only be exposed to high-quality programming/apps used together with caregivers as this is how toddlers learn best. Letting children use media by themselves should be avoided.

Children older than 2 years – limit screen use to no more than 1 hour per day of high-quality programming (such as those from Sesame Workshop and PBS). Co-view or co-play with your children as much as possible. Help children understand what they are seeing and apply what they learn to the world around them. Avoid fast-paced programs with lots of distracting or violent content.

Older Children and Teens:
Overuse of media can interrupt a child or teenager’s need for adequate sleep and physical activity. Designate media free times and areas within the house. Children should not sleep with devices in the bedrooms and should not use devices or screens for at least 1 hour before bedtime to minimize interference of sleep quality.

Parents should develop personalized media use plans for their children (guidelines and sample plans can be found at the Healthy Children website by the American Academy of Pediatrics). Parents should periodically have open discussions about online safety with their children including treating others with respect and avoiding cyberbullying, sexting and communications that may compromise personal privacy and safety.

North Scottsdale Pediatrics

  • Ironwood Office - 9827 N. 95th St. Suite 105, Scottsdale, AZ 85258 Phone: (480) 860-8488 Fax: (480) 860-8498
  • Deer Valley Office - 21807 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85255 Phone: (480) 860-8488 Fax: (480) 860-8498

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