Be smart with screen time

Tips and Resources

Screens help us stay connected during this time of social distancing, but excess use can lead to more feelings of isolation. These resources can help you and your loved ones develop healthy media habits during quarantine times and beyond.

Tips

General

  1. Enforce screen-free zones and screen-free times
  2. Enforce usage limits. Do not allow screens at bedtime, and leave screens away from the dinner table (including your own)
  3. Talk to your kids' other caregivers about your screen time rules
  4. Avoid information overload. Take a break from news and social media as needed if you are feeling overwhelmed
  5. Visit Common Sense Media for research-driven, practical tips on media use
  6. Check in with yourself on how using social media makes you feel
  7. Use social media for connection and set it aside when it becomes divisive
  8. Use media together as a family
  9. Set a good example for your kids by limiting your own screen time
  10. Make screen time educational

For Teens

  1. Leave phones at home when you go out as a family. Encourage your kids to do the same
  2. Involve your teens in making clear rules and consequences for screen time violation
  3. If your kids have a smart device, monitor content and apps
  4. Disable the ability to install or uninstall apps without a password that only you know
  5. Be flexible with allowing more screen time for social interaction

For Kids

  1. Kids between the ages of 3-5 should be limited to no more than one hour of screen time per day
  2. Follow the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations regarding child screen time use
  3. Turn off autoplay
  4. Give kids warnings before turning off screens (“5 minutes left,” “1 minute left”)
  5. Turn off shows at break points like the end of a level or episode

For Infants and Toddlers

  1. Avoid digital media for toddlers younger than 18 months other than video chatting
  2. Remember that digital media does not provide benefit in language development in early years
  3. Be skeptical of apps/videos that claim to improve your young child’s skills. These rarely provide benefit and may cause harm
  4. Toddlers 18-24 months can start to enjoy screen time together with a caregiver in small doses

Articles

Videos

Activities

Frequently Asked Questions: Screen Time

faq down arrow faq up arrow Surveillance
Q.

What apps are there to help me track screen time for myself and my children?

A.

Some phones have built-in usage trackers that deliver weekly reports. An app called Screen Time Parental Control is another popular option to manage screen time for Apple and Android users. Visit this Parent’s Guide to Parental Controls from Common Sense Media for more help.

Q.

Should I monitor my teen’s activity online?

A.

More important than monitoring is direct communication about online safety and digital citizenship. Start these conversations early, before your child has significant activity online, and keep this communication open, checking in frequently. There are times when monitoring is important, especially if safety is a concern. This should generally be done with your teen’s knowledge, and with the understanding that many kids are able to work around your efforts.

faq down arrow faq up arrow Positive Media
Q.

What are some good educational programs for my kids?

A.

Keep in mind that no TV program or app is a substitution for in-person interaction. That said, media can be a fun and engaging supplement to other teaching. Check out these suggestions by Common Sense Media.

faq down arrow faq up arrow Limits
Q.

Should time on screens for school count toward my child’s daily screen time limit?

A.

There is no single right answer to this question. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping to consistent limits on screen time, including educational media; however, with social distancing constraints, screen time can be a valuable and important tool for connection. For more help balancing flexibility with setting boundaries, check out this article by the Child Mind Institute.

Q.

How can I avoid information overload?

A.

Limit how much time you spend catching up on news and world events. It is important to stay informed but it is also important to be mindful of how such information makes you feel.

Get Help