Screen time for babies. What does it mean? It’s a loaded term, with parents and educators alike often disagreeing about what it means and how much of it babies should be exposed to. In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about screen time and babies, including the signs that your baby has had enough screen time, how much screen time they should have at different ages, and more.
Is Screen Time Bad?
Studies and experts disagree on whether screen time is a bad thing or not. A 2015 study found that babies who watched educational programming on TV scored higher on cognitive tests than those who did not. But another 2015 study suggested that even low levels of baby screen time were linked with lower language development. However, a third 2017 study suggested that any amount of screen time has no negative effect on language development (again, in comparison to no exposure at all). One doctor summed it up well: The only consensus we have is that we don’t know enough about what is safe and what isn’t. Parents will have to make their own decisions here—but there are ways you can help yourself make informed choices.
How Much is Too Much?
Screen time may be okay in moderation, but don’t be fooled: There is no such thing as just a little bit when it comes to screen time. A 2017 study published in Lancet Public Health found that kids who spent five or more hours per day using media devices had an average BMI that was higher than those who spent less than one hour per day. In other words, too much screen time is associated with increased weight gain—even when you factor in physical activity levels. So how do you decide how much screen time is right for your baby?
How Can I Reduce Screen Time?
One of today’s most pressing questions: How can I reduce screen time? For parents, especially working parents, it can be difficult to know when screen time is okay and when it’s too much. Research shows that excessive screen time could increase children’s risk of anxiety and depression while reducing their attention spans. If you are concerned about your child’s level of screen use or want to reduce his/her overall exposure, here are some tips on how you can start cutting back today.
When Should My Baby Start Using a Tablet?
There’s no right or wrong time to introduce your baby to a tablet. Screen time isn’t inherently good or bad. But you should know that a child’s brain develops at an astounding rate during their first few years of life. Experts recommend less screen time as babies get older since they need more unstructured and natural playtime. So try not to introduce them too early (before age 1). For more information on screen time in general and how it may affect your child, check out our guide below.
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Tips for Children Over 2 Years Old
Children over 2 years old should not watch more than one hour of screen time per day. In most cases, that’s enough time for a movie or an episode of a favorite show. Children who are 3-5 years old can have up to two hours of screen time per day. Though you might want to try limiting it as much as possible. (The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend any screen time at all for children under 2.) But remember that your child also gets some important screen time from reading and playing games on paper. So don’t worry too much about how many hours they spend in front of a screen.