Should parents limit screen time for kids 12 and younger?

Take our poll and see what others think

Published: September 18, 2014 12:45 PM

Adults have been worried about kids watching too much TV since, well, forever. But it really is different now that we are all surrounded by screens nearly all the time—televisions, tablets, computers, smart phones, and gaming devices. The American Academy of Pediatrics claims that children spend an average of 7 hours a day on what it terms “entertainment media,” and that includes TVs, computers, phones, and other electronic devices.

And the AAP also says that excessive media use “can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity.” (HealthyChildren.org offers recommendations for parents on managing media use.)

We wondered about consumers’ perceptions on the matter. So we asked our Facebook readers. By a huge margin, the answer was yes: Parents should limit screen time for kids 12 and younger. But the hows and whys differed.

Karen Pisciotta wrote: “Although children have at their fingertips nearly all the knowledge and entertainment that the world has accumulated, they still need to learn how to listen intently, converse intelligently, debate confidently, observe thoughtfully, and conduct themselves with confidence and kindness. Experiencing the world through screens does not teach these skills.”

A parent, Larissa Campbell, wrote: “We only allow 60 minutes a day. Mine are cranky if they play on a screen for hours at a time.”

For more on tech for kids, visit our guide to video games, consoles, and tech toys.

From Karla Oquenda: “Too much time and they become reclusive and very hard to handle when you try to pry electronics away. We only let our son play on the tablet 3 times a week for about an hour and we have decided to put our phones away when we get home.”

Andrew Foster Davis wrote: “We limit our 5 yr old to one hour per day, which is plenty. He does enjoy PBS Kids or YouTube when he gets home from school and we are making dinner.”

Other respondents said they were concerned that kids today don’t play outside enough and that it's a reason many struggle with obesity. The also fretted over the effect of electronics on developing brains.

Hazel Schafer took it further than most: “Should be 30 [minutes] and under. It is beyond me why they cannot live without a stupid cell phone.”

But not as far as Kristen Coberly Warren, who wrote: “Goal is NO screen time. We never turn on the TV and watch one family movie a month. No video game console… My 3 kids aren't perfect but they have hobbies, social skills, and no problem in school. Best of all, they love to read. I wouldn't have it any other way.”

So what’s your take on this issue? Please vote in our poll at this link or at the top of this page, and let us know what you think.

—Carol Mangis

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