How much time should I let my child spend watching a screen?

Posted by / Thursday 28 September 2017 / Parenting Tips Online

There's lots of conflicting advice about what is 'normal' or how much time your child should spend online or watching online media. The use of technology and ways in which we watch media is constantly changing, it can be tricky to work out what to do.

We've summarised the American Academy of Paediatrics guidelines for you.


Parents play an important role in helping children and teens navigate media.

You can set expectations and boundaries to make sure your child's media experience is a positive one.

The key is to make sure you are talking about it, have 'rules' and are consistent.

Remember, if you’re unsure, speak to a Family Support Worker or professional and they can provide guidance specific to your situation!

Under 18 months old

Avoid use of screen media, other than video-chatting.

18-24 months old

If you want to introduce digital media to your toddler, you should choose high-quality programming and watch it with them to help them understand what they're seeing.

2-5 years old

Try to limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs.

You should watch with them to help them understand what they're watching and apply it to the world around them.

6 years and older

Place consistent limits on the time spent using media and the types of media they can watch.

Make sure that watching media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviours essential to health and development.

What else to think about?

  • Make sure that you are spending media-free time with your child, such as dinner time and playtime.
  • Have 'screen-free' locations at home, such as their bedroom.
  • Keep having conversations about online safety, how to behave online, treating others with respect (both online and offline).

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