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reviewed 1/3/2020

Screen time for kids under age 5

Too much time in front of screens—phones, tablets, computers and TVs—can hurt children's language, social, cognitive and motor skills development.

Learn how much screen time is OK for kids from birth through age 5. Plus get tips on how to grow your child's skills without screens in play.

Screen time recommendations for children younger than 18 months

Except for video chats with distant relatives, screen time isn't recommended for children this young. That's because babies do not learn from digital media. They need human interactions and hands-on activities to develop their skills.

Rather than screen time, work on:

  • Reading together.
  • Stacking games.
  • Sing-alongs and nursery rhymes.

Grow baby’s language skills.

Screen time recommendations for children 18 to 24 months

Children at this stage may start using digital media for less than an hour a day, provided a parent is watching with them.

However, there's no harm in waiting to use screens. Kids catch on quickly once introduced to technology.

Choose only high-quality programming that encourages viewer participation. And remember—your child needs your help applying what they see on a screen to real life.

Get tips for toddler toys

Screen time recommendations for children 2 to 5 years

Limit screen time to one hour or less per day of high-quality programming and apps.

Keep these tips in mind for your child's media use:

  • Avoid unhealthy content that's fast-paced, violent or distracting.
  • Monitor what your child downloads and test apps before they use them.
  • Stop screen usage an hour before bed and keep screens out of bedrooms for optimal sleep.

Try these bedtime tips

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; Zero to Three

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