Screen Time

“How Much Screen Time Is Too Much?”

A summer or school break without screen time is not realistic. But allowing digital devices can lead down a slippery slope — if parents don’t institute smart limits early on. Here, learn to craft a play diet that balances clicking with other important activities.

Boy with ADHD wearing headphones watching video or playing games on tablet during allotted screen time

Can parents safely relax screen-time limits at certain times, like school breaks or during the summer? The complicated answer is, “It depends.” The underlying goal is balance. If your child is attending day camp or taking sailing lessons, or spends all morning building a snow fort, increased afternoon screen time is not detrimental. If your child is cooped up indoors working a summer job, for example, that’s another story.

In limiting screen time for kids, you are working to create a healthy “play diet” that balances many types of play — just as a well-rounded diet balances the five food groups. Digital play is part of the equation, but it must not overshadow or steal time from social, physical, unstructured, and creative play. Success comes when parents demonstrate balance by example – and enforce the family rules.

All screen time is not alike. Some is good for kids, and some is less beneficial. Children do much of their homework on screens, and communicate almost exclusively via text. Parents must differentiate between learning screen use, and “recreational screen time.” Instead of saying, “No phones.” Suggest, “You can play BrainPop for 15 minutes.”

[Free Guide: Brain-Building Video and Computer Games]

To restrict what your child can do during his recreational screen time, use apps such as “Screentime” and “Habyts” to reduce conflicts.

Age Recreational Screen Time Limit Considerations
0-24 months limited Screen time should always be with an adult and is still secondary to traditional sensory, motor, and interpersonal experiences.
2-5 years 1 hr/day Adults should choose & supervise the technology. Physical/social activities remain priorities, but technology can help kids learn academic skills!
6-9 years 90 min/day Adults should choose the technology and programming, watching for violence and other inappropriate content. Limits are very important, though parents should recognize the growing social aspect of technology.
10-13 years 90-120 min/day Parents should closely monitor chosen technology content and model good technology use, fostering conversations on how to use it appropriately.
14+ years 120 min/day Continue to discuss and observe behavior, guiding content choices but allowing more screen time freedom as it is earned. Technology is now very important socially and academically!


Download a PDF version of this chart at:


Kids and Technology: Next Steps