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Screen Time Guidelines for Teens


As kids get older, too much screen time can interfere with activities like being physically active, doing homework, playing with friends, and spending time with family. Too much screen time also can contribute to obesity, attention problems, sleep disorders, and problems at school.

For teens, screen time can include things like researching a school project, creating music or art, or interacting with friends via social media. But it also can include less productive activities, like watching inappropriate TV shows, visiting unsafe websites, or playing violent video games.

Some studies show that teens spend almost 9 hours a day online, on the phone, watching TV, or playing games — so what's a parent to do?

Parents should continue to set limits on screen time, preview all shows and games to make sure they're OK, and stay aware of what their teens are doing online.

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 creating flash cards on a smartphone app).

Not all screen time is created equal. It's up to parents to decide how (and how often) their teens 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 teens (and kids of all ages), screen time should not replace time needed for sleeping, eating, being active, 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 teen about it.

To make your teen'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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