"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.
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.
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:
Baum RA. Positive parenting and support. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 19.
Gahagan S. Overweight and obesity. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 60.
Strasburger VC, Jordan AB, Donnerstein E. Health effects of media on children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2010;125(4):756-767. PMID: 20194281 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20194281/.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 5/24/2021
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. 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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