TV/Screen Time

 There’s one sure thing parents can do to help their kids learn, regardless of financial means: Forbid them from watching television on school nights.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under 2 and less than 2 hours per day for older children.

Excessive screen time puts young children at risk

  • Forty percent of 3-month-old infants are regular viewers of screen media, and 19% of babies 1 year and under have a TV in their bedroom.
  • Screen time can be habit-forming: the more time children engage with screens, the harder time they have turning them off as older children.
  • Screen time for children under 3 is linked to irregular sleep patterns and delayed language acquisition.


  • The more time preschool children and babies spend with screens, the less time they spend interacting with their parents. Even when parents coview, they spend less time talking to their children than when they’re engaged in other activities.
  • Toddler screen time is also associated with problems in later childhood, including lower math and school achievement, reduced physical activity, victimization by classmates, and increased BMI.
  • Direct exposure to TV and overall household viewing are associated with increased early childhood aggression.
  • The more time preschool children spend with screens, the less time they spend engaged in creative play – the foundation of learning, constructive problem solving, and creativity.
  • On average, preschool children see nearly 25,000 television commercials, a figure that does not include product placement.

School-age children are also at risk from excessive screen time

  • Including multitasking, children ages 8-18 spend an average of 4 ½ hours per day watching television, 1 ½ hours using computers, and more than an hour playing video games.
  • Black and Hispanic youth spend even more time with screen media than their white peers.16
  • Time spent with screens is associated with:
    – childhood obesity
    – sleep disturbances
    – attention span issues
  • Children with 2 or more hours of daily screen time are more likely to have increased psychological difficulties, including hyperactivity, emotional and conduct problems, as well as difficulties with peers.
  • Adolescents who watch 3 or more hours of television daily are at especially high risk for poor homework completion, negative attitudes toward school, poor grades, and long-term academic failure.
  • Adolescents with a television in their bedroom spend more time watching TV and report less physical activity, less healthy dietary habits, worse school performance, and fewer family meals.
  • Children with a television in their bedroom are more likely to be overweight.
  • Especially high rates of bedroom televisions (70-74%) have been seen among racial/ethnic minority children aged 2 to 13 years.

Research shows the benefits of reduced screen time.

  • Reducing screen time can help prevent childhood obesity.
  • Children who spend less time watching television in early years tend to do better in school, have a healthier diet, be more physically active, and are better able to engage in schoolwork in later elementary school.
  • Television viewing at a young age is associated with later behavioral problems, but not if heavy viewing is discontinued before age six.
  • Limiting exposure to television during the first 4 years of life may decrease children’s interest in it in later years.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents create an electronic-media-free environment in children’s bedrooms.

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