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Screen Time Guidelines for Big Kids

By the time kids reach grade school, most are very familiar with things like TVs, tablets, and smartphones. Chances are they'll want to spend a lot of time using those devices, too.

But kids' bodies and minds are still growing at this age. It's important for them to get plenty of exercise and lots of unstructured, screen-free playtime alone or with friends.

For kids this age, screen time — time spent looking at or interacting with any device with a screen — can include things like doing homework or researching a school project. But it also can include less productive things, like watching inappropriate TV shows or playing violent video games.

Parents need to set limits and know what their kids are watching or playing, and how they're interacting in the Internet.

How Much Is Too Much?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents of kids and teens 5 to 18 years old place consistent limits on the use of any media. This includes entertainment media (like watching TV and movies), as well as educational media (like researching a school report on the Internet).

Not all screen time is created equal. It's up to parents to decide how (and how often) their kids use screens and whether screen time is positive or negative. For instance, time spent on homework or other educational activities might not need to be as restricted as time spent playing video games.

For kids of all ages, screen time should not replace time needed for sleeping, eating, playing, studying, and interacting with family and friends.

Screen Time Tips

The same parenting rules apply to screen time as to anything else — set a good example, establish limits, and talk with your child about it.

To make your child's screen time more productive:

Date reviewed: December 2016

Note: All information on KidsHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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