Screen Time And Sleep Guide For Parents

Medically reviewed by
 Dr. Nayantara Santhi

Dr. Nayantara Santhi

Dr. Nayantara Santhi holds an academic position at Northumbria University. After completing her Ph.D. at Northeastern University (Boston, MA), she joined the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School as a post-doctoral fellow to research how sleep and circadian rhythmicity influence our cognitive functioning.

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Last Updated On December 13th, 2023
Screen Time And Sleep Guide For Parents

Key Takeaways

  • Screen Time Impact: Excessive screen time can have a negative impact on children’s physical and mental health, including issues like obesity, sleep problems, anxiety, depression, and poor posture. It can also hinder the development of social skills.
  • Setting Screen Time Limits: Parents should establish clear rules and boundaries regarding screen time, taking into account their child’s age and developmental stage. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under two years old and limited screen time (up to two hours a day) for older children.
  • Promoting Digital Literacy: To help children make the most of screen time while avoiding potential harm, parents should encourage digital literacy. This includes discussing online safety, privacy, and responsible media consumption. It’s also essential to provide alternatives to screen-based activities, such as outdoor play and family bonding, to maintain a balanced lifestyle for children.

Parents today face a new challenge when raising their children compared to many previous generations: managing screen time.

With the proliferation of tablets, phones, and other digital devices, it can be challenging to know just how much screen time is too much for your kids. That’s why we’ve created this guide for parents on screen time and sleep – so you can make sure you’re giving your children the best possible start.

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“An important factor in promoting healthy sleep in kids is regularity of their sleep schedules e.g., bedtimes, wake-times, and naptimes,” says Dr. Nayantara Santhi. “Some studies suggest that regularity around sleep schedules is positively related to sleep outcomes such as sleep onset, indices of sleep problems, sufficient sleep duration. For instance, studies have shown that children with more irregular bedtimes are more likely to obtain insufficient sleep.”

In this guide, you’ll find information on how much screen time is recommended for different ages and tips and advice on setting healthy boundaries around screens and sleep. We’ll also provide some strategies for dealing with common issues when managing these two important elements of a child’s development.

So whether you’re a parent overwhelmed by the number of screens in your home or want to ensure their child is getting enough rest, this guide has something for everyone. Keep reading to learn about child’s screen time and sleep guidelines for kids of all ages!

What Is Screen Time And Why Does It Matter?

Screen time is any time spent using electronic devices such as computers, phones, tablets, and televisions. It’s become an increasingly important part of our lives, especially for children. It can be a great way to stay connected with friends and family, learn new skills, and have fun. But not limiting screen time can negatively affect your child’s physical and mental health.

Children who spend too much time Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source in front of screens are more likely to be overweight or obese due to a lack of physical activity. They may also experience sleep problems like difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Too much media use can lead to attention problems like difficulty concentrating or focusing on tasks. And it can contribute to feelings of depression or anxiety as well as increased aggression and irritability.

Parents need to keep an eye on their children’s screen time usage and ensure that it doesn’t interfere with important activities like eating together, getting enough sleep, and exercising. They should consider installing parental controls on their mobile device to monitor how much media time is spent if necessary.

Setting appropriate limits on screen time, monitoring use, and having conversations about healthy media use are all effective ways of helping your child stay safe online while still taking advantage of technology’s positive benefits.

How Much Screen Time Are Children Getting?

Screen time has become a significant part of children’s lives, with a growing amount of research suggesting it can have both positive and negative effects.

So, how much screen time are children getting?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It depends on the age of the child and their particular situation. Generally speaking, younger kids are more likely to spend more time interacting with screens than older kids. Some infants are being exposed to screens, Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source even.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics Verified Source American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Professional society for pediatricians that aims to improve children’s health everywhere. View source , children aged two and under should avoid screens altogether. For older children, it is recommended that they limit their screen time to two hours a day.

Parents need to be aware of how much screen time their children are getting each day so they can make sure it doesn’t negatively affect their sleep or physical health.

Creating healthy boundaries around screen use can help kids learn how to properly balance technology with other activities, such as outdoor play and reading. Just as with adults, regular exercise can improve sleep in children.

Parents should also ensure that their kids’ use of screens is educational or recreational instead of just mindlessly scrolling through social media platforms for hours at a time. By keeping these guidelines in mind, parents can ensure that their children’s use of screens does not interfere with their overall health and well-being.

Problems Too Much Screen Time Can Cause

Screen time can cause several problems for children. Excessive screen time can lead to physical health issues such as headaches and eye strain. It may also disrupt their ability to sleep or cause insomnia. Furthermore, it can impact mental health, causing increased stress levels, depression, and anxiety.

Excessive screen time can also lead to social problems for kids. They may become more isolated, less likely to interact with others face-to-face, and struggle to develop interpersonal skills. This can result in them feeling excluded and lonely, increasing their reliance on screens even further.

Parents must understand the risks associated with too much screen time and take steps to limit it where possible. Setting rules around when screens should be used, such as no use during meals or before bedtime, is a great way to ensure that children are not overusing technology that can affect sleep negatively and develop harmful habits.

How To Develop Screen Time Rules For Kids

Developing screen time rules for kids can be daunting for any parent. After all, screens are everywhere these days, so how do you know what’s best for your child? It’s essential to create a plan that works for your family and also keeps your child safe from the potential harm of too much screen time.

The first step is to set clear limits on when, where and how long screens and handheld devices Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source can be used. This includes setting strict times for when devices should be turned off and putting them away in designated areas when not in use. Many parents also choose to restrict access to certain websites and apps or even have their children earn screen time by completing specific tasks or activities.

It’s also important to recognize that more than having rules is needed – they must also be consistently enforced. That means no exceptions and no leniency when sticking to the plan you’ve created together as a family. With dedication and patience, you can find the right balance between allowing the appropriate use of screens and keeping your child safe from potential harm.

Suggested Screen Time Limits By Age

Regarding screen time, there are recommended limits that parents should be aware of. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests Verified Source American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Professional society for pediatricians that aims to improve children’s health everywhere. View source  up to two hours per day of quality programming for children over the age of two years old. The AAP recommends avoiding screens altogether for children under two years old due to their developing brains.

For older kids, the AAP recommends limiting their daily device use to one hour for kids aged six and up and limiting access to devices in bedrooms overnight. This is especially important as research has shown that excessive screen time can interfere with sleep patterns in adults and children.

Parents need to be mindful of how much time their children spend on screens and set appropriate boundaries based on the child’s age and stage of development. Having a family discussion about screen time rules will help ensure healthy daytime and sleep habits are established for kids now and into adulthood.

Encouraging Digital Literacy

It’s important to take a balanced approach to screen time and sleep. Encouraging digital literacy can be an effective way of helping kids get the most out of their devices while avoiding potential pitfalls.

One way to foster digital literacy is to provide guidance on using technology responsibly. For instance, discussing topics such as cyberbullying, digital privacy, and internet safety can help children understand the implications of their online activities. Additionally, teaching children about media literacy and how content is created can empower them to make more informed decisions when consuming online media.

For parents, setting up healthy tech habits early will pay dividends in the long run. To do this effectively, it’s vital to role-model positive tech behaviors and create a family media plan that sets boundaries around device usage and encourages meaningful engagement with all forms of media.

By taking these steps, parents can ensure that screen time remains a part of their child’s life without compromising their sleep or overall well-being.

What Are The Effects Of Screen Time?

Screen time has become a staple in many households, but how does it impact our children? We’ve all heard that too much screen time can lead to a lack of sleep and difficulty concentrating, but what other effects could it have on our kids? This article will explore the impact of screen time on children.

The first effect of too much screen time is the potential for physical health issues. Studies have shown that increased screen exposure can lead to greater risks of obesity and poor posture. Those who watch more television are also more likely to consume unhealthy snacks.

Furthermore, when children engage in excessive gaming or scrolling on their phones, they are less likely to be active and exercise regularly.

The second effect is mental health concerns. Children with more than two hours of daily screen time are more likely to develop anxiety or depression and display higher levels of impulsivity and irritability. Mental health is linked to sleep, with dips in the former often negatively affecting the latter.

Overuse of screens can also influence the development of social skills since it limits face-to-face interactions and communication with peers. This is especially true for younger children; Some adults even believe that those eight years old and younger should not spend any time on screens.

Overall, while there are many educational benefits to using digital devices in moderation, parents must be aware that overusing screens can lead to many physical and mental health problems for their children. As such, setting firm limits on screen time is essential for maintaining a healthy balance between digital activities and real-world experiences.

Strategies To Help Monitor And Limit Screen Time

As a parent, it can be difficult to know how much screen time is too much for your child. Fortunately, there are strategies you can use to help monitor and limit their screen time and blue light exposure.

One way to do this is by agreeing with your child about the amount of screen time they’re allowed. Depending on their age, you can decide when, where, and how long they’re allowed to use screens daily. You even want to make sure they have a tech-free bedroom, with TVs, computers, and game consoles elsewhere in the house. This will give them clear boundaries and help them understand that their screen time needs to be regulated.

Consider introducing other activities into your family’s daily routine that don’t involve screens. This could include outdoor play, board games (not playing video games!), or art projects.

Making sure you have plenty of alternatives available will make it easier for your child to follow the rules around screen time limits. This is especially important for a healthy summer sleep routine for kids, when parents will need to help children fill up the hours in the day without over-relying on screened devices.

It’s important to remember that technology can be a valuable tool in helping children learn and explore new things. So while it’s natural for parents to help their children sleep better and want to control the amount of time their children spend on screens, it’s just as important not to restrict them from accessing technology altogether.

More Parents Can Consider

Frequently Asked Questions

Should parents limit a teenager’s screen time?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that parents of children and adolescents aged 5 to 18 set consistent limits on the use of any and all forms of media for their children and adolescents.

This encompasses both forms of recreational media, such as viewing television and movies. The standards also include educational forms of media (like creating flash cards on a smartphone app).

Should kids wear blue-light-blocking glasses?

Yes they should. Children and teenagers who use computer screens for schoolwork and extracurricular activities daily aren’t even aware that they’re putting their eyes through unnecessary strain or weariness. They may find that using blue light glasses at night alleviates their headaches, clears their eyesight, and helps enhance their circadian cycles.

How can parents help children sleep?

Parents can help by establishing a calm, dark, and quiet atmosphere conducive to sleeping. Along with a good sleep environment, maintaining a regular hour for going to bed is key. Caffeine intake should be limited for at least eight hours before bed. Staying away from electronic devices for at least one hour before bed is also recommended.

How can parents teach children internet safety?

The most important thing you can do to keep your child safe when using the internet is to have frequent conversations with them.

Your child will feel more at ease if you talk to them about it frequently and make it a regular topic, just as you would speak to them about their day at school. It also implies that if they have any concerns, they will come to you to discuss them rather than keep them to themselves.

How can parents monitor their children’s screen use?

Using third-party parental control applications for media use, such as Qustodio, Norton Family, or Net Nanny, you can keep track of the amount of screen time your child is engaging in. Utilizing the parental controls pre-installed on your smartphone is yet another alternative.

Screen Time is available on iOS, while Family Link may be found on Android.


This guide discusses the importance of monitoring and limiting screen time. We’ve also looked at ways that parents can do this and strategies they can use to help their children make healthier choices regarding media consumption. Let’s wrap up our discussion by summarizing what we’ve learned.

First, parents must be aware of how much time their children spend on screens. This includes knowing which type of activities their children engage in when using the device and how these activities affect them physically and emotionally.

Additionally, parents should set boundaries for how much time their child is allowed to spend on screens each day and stick to those limits as best as possible. Finally, it is helpful for parents to provide alternative activities that don’t involve screens to help keep their children entertained while also encouraging healthy physical and mental habits.

Overall, setting limits on screen time is an important task for any parent and a big tip for improving children’s sleep. It requires consistent effort but can positively impact your child’s overall health and well-being.

By teaching our children healthy habits now, we are helping them become more independent in the future and preparing them for success in all areas of life, rather than scrolling away endlessly as they use a phone before bed.

About the author

Eric Ridenour is a health and wellness writer with a strong focus on sleep and nutrition. With a background in health science and psychology, Eric has a deep understanding of the connection between sleep and overall well-being. His expertise has been sought by various businesses and individuals, and his work has been featured in reputable publications such as Thrive Global, Drug Report, and Authority Magazine. Eric's commitment to promoting better sleep and comprehensive wellness is evident in his writing and consultations. He is a published author working on his second book.

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