How much time should your child be spending in front of a screen?
Children’s use of digital media has increased dramatically, and begins earlier in childhood. High screen time use in children is associated with:
- Risk for obesity
- Poorer school performance
- Poorer sleep quality
- Risky behaviors in older children
- Delays in critical cognition, learning and social skills in younger children
The following steps outline recommendations for the safe use of electronic screens for children.
Position The Computer to Avoid Eye Strain
For computers, place the top of the display at the child’s eye level. Then allow them to move the screen down into a comfortable viewing position as needed. Make sure that there is no glare or reflection on the screen.
Limit Screen Time
Screen time refers to time spent viewing a television, computer, tablet, smartphone or video game. The amount of screen time that is appropriate for a child varies by age:
- Infants and Toddlers (0 to 2 Years of Age): None, with the possible exception of live video-chatting due to its potential for social development.
- Preschool Children (2 to 5 Years of Age): No more than one hour per day of supervised viewing. This should be limited to age-appropriate educational material.
- School Age Children (5 to 18 Years of Age): Ideally no more than two hours per day of recreational screen time. Individual screen time plans should be based on development and needs.
Take a Break From the Screen Every 30–60 Minutes
Breaks should include whole-body physical activity.
Encourage Outdoor Activity Over Screen Time
Increased prevalence or progression of myopia (nearsightedness) has been linked with children spending fewer hours outdoors.
Avoid Using a Screen One Hour Before Bedtime
Screens in the bedroom are not recommended.
Ensure Your Child Has Regular Eye Exams
Have your child’s eyes checked every year starting at age 1. This service is covered by Alberta Health Care for children up to the age of 19.
Consider Myopia Control and Management Services
Research has shown it is possible to slow down the progression of myopia (nearsightedness) in children. “Myopia control” is the term used to describe these treatments. Myopia control should be considered for:
- Children who develop myopia before age 11
- Children with a family history of high myopia
- Children with a history of rapidly progressing myopia