Screen Time In Young Children

Help your child develop healthy screen time habits

What is screen time?

Screen time is the amount of time each day you spend using devices with screens such as TV, smartphones, tablets and gaming consoles.

There are benefits and risks in using these devices, so limiting a child’s screen time encourages real life interactions which are much more beneficial to a child’s learning and development.

Screen time can be:

  • interactive – e.g. playing video games, communicating via Skype, or using online tools to draw pictures
  • not interactive – e.g. sitting still and watching movies, TV programs or YouTube videos
  • educational – e.g. doing maths homework online
  • recreational – e.g.  playing games or watching videos for fun.

Screen time guidelines

The latest information from the American Academy of Paediatrics indicates –

  • children under 18 months should avoid screen time, other than video-chatting
  • children aged 18 months to 2 years can watch or use high-quality programs or apps if adults watch or play with them to help them understand what they’re seeing
  • children aged 2-5 years should have no more than one hour a day of screen time with adults watching or playing with them
  • children aged 6 years and older should have consistent limits on the time they spend on electronic media and the types of media they use.

Benefits of screen time

There are benefits of screen time for young children through television, apps and movies, particularly when

  • you get involved when your child is using them and help your child make good choices about what games to play or things to watch
  • you get involved and talk with your child about what’s going on in the game or program so she understands it
  • your child uses good-quality content on screens – for example, playing a video game that involves solving creative puzzles to progress to higher levels
  • using screens gives your child new ideas for traditional play – for example, playing Minecraft might get your child interested in designing buildings on paper
  • using screens helps your child learn new skills – for example, making a video about a school excursion might help your child learn video-editing skills.


Risks of screen time

Screen time can potentially have physical, safety, developmental and other risks associated with it. Here are some risks of too much screen time

Physical problems:

  • Looking at a screen intensely can cause sore, irritated and dry eyes, headaches and fatigue.
  • Looking down at a device for long periods can make your child’s neck and spine uncomfortable.
  • Being inactive for long periods by using a screen can lead to a less active lifestyle, which places your child at risk of obesity or other health problems.

Developmental problems:

Too much screen time can have an impact on children’s language development and social skills. Children need real-life interactions to develop these skills including maintaining eye contact, having conversations, reading body language and paying attention to task. Additionally, too much screen time can also result in children missing out on developing a wide range of interests and making and maintaining friendships.


What do screen time limits mean for my child?

Limiting screen time means that your child has the chance to enjoy lots of healthy, fun activities – with and without a screen. Limits mean looking at the time your child spends on screen-based activities that could potentially get in the way of other activities, including physical play, reading, drawing and social time with family and friends; all of which are good for development.


Remember, limits do not mean to completely take your child away from screen-based activities, such as TV or interactive apps because they have completed schoolwork on a device.


Helpful facts

  • Babies and toddlers might copy what they see on TV (e.g. clapping), but are much more likely to do so if you if you do it with them
  • It’s recommended that children aged six years and older have consistent limits on screen time and the types of media they use.
  • Your child learns their healthy screen time habits from you – this means you can model how you want your child to use them (e.g. switching off the TV after you finish watching a program, turning your phone off when it is dinner time).


For further reading:


There is lots of helpful information on the Raising Children Network website. Here’s their website:


If you have concerns about your child’s language development or social skills, contact Young Allied Health to arrange an appointment.

Reception: 0408 166 506

 Email: [email protected]

6/56 Charles Street

Aitkenvale, QLD, 4814