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Limiting Screen Time

“Don’t sit so close to the screen or you’ll get square eyes!” Do you remember your parents constantly telling you this? I do … But now, I have a Virtual Reality set and the screen couldn’t be any closer to my eyes! In this digital age, when screens are a big part of everyday life, it can be hard for parents to find the right balance. Let’s have a look at some ways we can convince kids to limit their screen time.

Video games can be fun and good for your brain, but if your children don't manage them well, they can end up spending too much time in front of a screen and developing unhealthy habits. So, lets look at some healthy gaming habits and helpful ways for parents to limit their kids' video game screen time and help them live a healthier, more well-rounded life.


First of all, how do we know how much screen time is appropriate for your child? Well, there are a lot of opinions on this (as always). The main thing to keep in mind is to do what is best for your child. Respond to how they are reacting and monitor their behaviour and development and respond accordingly. If there are problems or you are not sure, the best thing to do is consult a professional. However, a general consensus on screen time for children seems to be as follows:


Under 2 years old


Children under the age of 2 years old may aim to be exposed to screen time when an adult is present to watch and interact with them but this should be limited.  


2 to 5 years old


A good, suggested range is one hour per day. It is more important that screen time is interactive, non-violent, educational, and helps their development due to their young age.


5 to 8 years old


A suggested range is one of two hours, however, at this stage, there appears to be no set recommendation for how long a child should engage with screen time on a daily basis rather it’s up to families to determine what’s appropriate for their children.


9+ years old


A few hours of screen time is fine as children get older, but once a child enters the tween and teen years, screen time usage becomes more of a conversation. It is between the parents and children to discuss appropriate boundaries of not only screen time but also talk about how they use their screen time, what they are watching, and what they are learning.  


Bear in mind these are generic suggestions and by no means something to be strictly followed. I can speak from experience that I certainly spent a lot (like ALOT) more screen time than this. Always just do what is right for you and your child.


So now that we have a general idea of screen times, let's look at ways that we can safely limit screen time if it is becoming a bit excessive or unhealthy for your child:


Set up clear rules


Setting clear and consistent rules and boundaries about how much time your child can spend in front of a screen is an important step. Work with your child through positive discussions to set reasonable limits on how long they can play video games. You can even reinforce this by signing a gaming contract for fun! Think about things like their age, responsibilities, school life, and other activities to make sure that they have time to relax and enough time to invest in other things happening in their lives. Having clear rules helps kids know when and how much they can play, which makes it less likely that they will struggle to leave a game when you ask them to stop.


Set up a timetable


Setting up a daily or weekly schedule that includes times for playing video games can be a great way to manage screen time. Setting up a calendar that specifies a variety of activities such as playing outside, reading, spending time with family, hobbies, and gaming will help to create a balanced schedule. When kids see that video games are just one part of their day, they are more likely to accept the limits without feeling upset or angry when it is time to jump off the game. The idea of consistency is also highly beneficial for children and helps to foster a routine within themselves and regulate their emotions so that there are no surprises to upset them.


Show the way


Children learn a lot by watching how their parents act. As hard as it may be for an adult to put on restrictions themselves, it helps to be and set a good example and use your screen in a healthy way for your kids to follow.


Talk with each other


It’s important that you talk to your child (no matter how old or young) often about how important it is to balance screen time with other activities. Understanding one another is so important and key to developing a healthy relationship and fostering trust together. Talk about what might happen to their health, sleep, and relationships if they spend too much time in front of a screen, and get them to talk about what they think and feel about how they play games. You can even draw a list or picture together of what good and bad screen time looks like to help them understand. Get creative and help one another understand how you are both feeling.


Through working together with your child, you will be able to find a balance that lets your kids enjoy the benefits of video games without giving up other important things in life. Setting clear rules, making schedules, leading by example, and offering alternatives are all ways in which we can help to limit screen time for kids. At the end of the day, it’s important for parents to teach their kids how to use screens in a responsible way and help them do well in the digital age.



By Gee Gee                 

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