Screen time can be an everyday dilemma for parents and caregivers. Learn what can you do to make sure kids don’t spend too much time in front of electronic media.

According to a study published by the Kaiser Family Foundation, children who are 2 and younger watch an average of one to two hours of television per day. In a typical day, 68% of those children also participate in screen time with their caregivers, listening to music, watching a video or DVD, or using a computer. Some are exposed to background media while their caregivers participate in screen time.

Research suggests that too much screen time can have lasting effects on children’s language, short-term memory, and reading skills.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued these recommendations:

  • Children younger than 18 months should avoid all screen media use except for supervised video chatting.
  • Children ages 18 months to 5 years should only watch high-quality television programs with educational benefits, such as improved social and language skills and school readiness. Parents should view the program with their child and talk about what they are watching. Provide opportunities for playing out what they are watching. Children learn best through play and live social interaction.

University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital encourages you to follow this set of screen time guidelines to help support your young child’s brain development:

  • Discuss the American Academy of Pediatrics screen time recommendations with your partner, pediatrician, and all caregivers.
  • Create a family media plan, setting limits for screen time for all family members.
  • Turn the television off if no one is watching.
  • Replace screen time with play time. In the children’s hospital, ask Child Life services for activity ideas.
  • Request a volunteer for play, holding, or conversation.
  • Read to your child daily from real books and make a trip to the Janice and Bruce Ellig Children’s Library on Level 1 in UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital or the Patient’s Library (Elevator F, Level 8 in the main hospital).
  • Play a game, draw a picture, or listen to music.