You may have heard that children are spending more time on a screen than on playing outside. It’s actually already twice as much screentime than time outside by the age of 7.
But how long do children actually spend on their screens?
Now take into account that not all screentime is necessarily bad, as there’s a lot of educational content out there as well and they even need to work with screens at school now as technology in schools progresses.
But the average child, from age of 7, spends around 4 hours a day on a screen.
Playing outside only makes up for around 1,5 hours a day in comparison.
So how does your kid measure up to this? More time, or maybe less? And is it really a bad thing?
Most parents and health care providers will agree that children spend too much time on devices and that it’s bad for their health as well as their development.
I’d like my kid to be able to Google his way out of knowledge gaps, I think it’s where the future’s headed. But there should be a good balance that currently there is not.
How long do children of different ages spend on screens?
- Toddlers spend around 1 to 3 hours on a screen, depending on what the parent allows
- Children from ages 4 to 7 spend around 4 hours on devices
- Children from ages 8 to 12 spend on average 4 hours and 36 minutes on their screens
- Teenagers spend on average 6 hours and 40 minutes on the screens of their devices
Screens can be anything of course, from the computers at school to your of their own mobile phone screens, tablets, TV, laptop, outdoor billboards and more.
And if you count the use of two screens as separate time, you could add 20% to this time spent as 4 in 10 parents found their children using multiple screens at once, like a TV or laptop screen and their phone.
How long should children spend on their screens?
Now, the big question is: how long should children spend on their screens?
We ourselves are using screens more and more. I have an online business and are using my laptop screen for just about everything I do in my work.
Before that, I was a Data Scientist and worked behind a computer for most of the day.
I think screens are here, we are going to use them as humans and we are continuing to use them going forward.
But we have to look out for our childrens health and development. Here’s how you can find more balance:
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommendations for different age groups as well.
- They think you shouldn’t let your child of under one and a half years old use any screens, “unless it’s for video-chatting” (I guess they find that staying in touch with family members far away is more important than limiting screen time).
- Toddlers from the age of 18 to 24 months should only use screens for educational activities, and always accompanied by an adult.
- Children from the age of 2 to 5 should only watch 1 hour of screen time per day.
- Older children and teenagers should be closer monitored by their parents to be able to assess what they are spending their time on. Educational and homework assignments are much more acceptable than social media and mindless video watching, and also there is the added risk of them being cyber-bullied or worse.
With older kids, it’s essential to know what your kids are spending their time on before judging the absolute number.
It might not be popular opinion, but I think we’re going to need our screens and our kids best learn how to make good use of them.
And they already need their laptop for homework assignments and they should learn how to navigate the internet to put it to good use in their lives as well.
Research shows that more than 50% of screen time is spent on mindless activities, without parents or even friends just watching video’s and social.
You can definitely reward proper internet use and try to get your children to use their screens for research and education and less for social media and mindless video’s.
And of course, you should stimulate playing outdoors as well as indoors on activities that stimulate their creativity and athletic abilites.
The best thing you can do is to stimulate real playing and learning instead of mindless watching and get your children to go outside and get creative, as well as use their screens for their further development, learning about how they will use screens in the future to be productive in society, and make real social connections.