By the time kids reach grade school, most are very familiar with things like TVs,
tablets, and smartphones. Chances are they'll want to spend a lot of time using those
But kids' bodies and minds are still growing at this age. It's important for them
to get plenty of exercise
and lots of unstructured, screen-free playtime alone or with friends.
For kids this age, screen time — time spent looking at or interacting with
any device with a screen — can include things like doing homework or researching
a school project. But it also can include less productive things, like watching inappropriate
TV shows or playing violent video games.
Parents need to set limits and know what their kids are watching or playing, and
how they're interacting in the Internet.
How Much Is Too Much?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents of kids and teens
5 to 18 years old place consistent limits on the use of any media. This includes entertainment
media (like watching TV and movies), as well as educational media (like researching
a school report on the Internet).
Not all screen time is created equal. It's up to parents to decide how (and how
often) their kids use screens and whether screen time is positive or negative. For
instance, time spent on homework or other educational activities might not need to
be as restricted as time spent playing video games.
For kids of all ages, screen time should not replace time needed for sleeping,
eating, playing, studying, and interacting with family and friends.
Screen Time Tips
The same parenting rules apply to screen time as to anything else — set
a good example, establish limits, and talk with your child about it.
To make your child's screen time more productive:
Research video and computer games before getting them for your
child. Look at the ratings, which can run from EC (meaning "early
childhood") to AO (meaning "adults only"). Kids in grade school should probably be
limited to games rated EC, E (meaning "everyone"), or E 10+ (meaning "everyone 10
Preview games and even play them with your child to see what they're like
before you let your child play alone. The game's rating may not match what
you feel is appropriate for your child.
Make sure kids have a variety of free-time activities, like spending
time with friends and playing sports, which can help them develop a healthy body and
Turn off all screens during family meals and
at bedtime. Also, keep devices with screens out of your child's bedroom after
bedtime, don't allow a TV in your child's bedroom, and turn off entertainment media
when kids are doing homework.
Spend time together with your child watching TV, playing games, or going
online. Use screen time as a chance to interact and communicate with your
Preview TV programs to make sure they're appropriate before your
kids watch them.
Use screening tools on the TV, computers, and tablets to block
your child's access to inappropriate material.