Screen time for kids: What every parent should know

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

(French Camp, CA) – How young is too young for kids to use screens? And what limits should parents set? With the holiday season, Health Plan of San Joaquin (HPSJ) is providing screen-time guidance for parents.

One of the first things babies reach for is a toy. But for many kids, tablets and cellphones are not far behind. Here is an age-by-age guide. 

Under 18 months

Video chats with family and friends are fine. But that is all. Babies and young children learn best with active exploration.

18 to 24 months

Very limited screen time is OK, but there is no rush. If you do allow it, always watch or play with your child. Talk and teach while they watch.

2 to 5 years

Limit screen time to a maximum of one hour a day. And keep watching together.

6 and up

Limit screen time in a way that makes sense for your family. Be sure it does not crowd out things your child needs to thrive, like sleep, family time and exercise.

Set some house rules

One way to make sure screen time is well spent is to set a few rules kids can understand about when and where they can watch. For instance:

  • No screens at meals
  • No screens during homework time (unless it’s for school assignments)
  • No screens in bed

You also have the final say on what they watch. For young kids, it is best to stick with content that is educational and interactive. For older kids, just make sure it is not too grown-up for their age. And share your point of view on what they see.

Be sure grandparents and caregivers know and follow these rules, too.

Screens off, fun on

There are lots of fun ways for kids to enjoy themselves without screens. When they are bored, encourage them to draw, write stories or play ball.

Turning off screens is also a chance to do things as a family. You can read aloud to your kids, play board games, or teach them a hobby or sport. Show them you do not need a screen to have a good time.

Further practical advice from Health Plan of San Joaquin Health Education & Population Health Manager Setar Testo, MPH –

“We all want the best for our children. During the holidays that means we can keep them safe and healthy by helping them limit their screen time. Step away from the screens and focus on making those precious holiday memories. Read some holiday books together, cook some food or make some snacks. In these and other ways, time together is just what we need at the end of this year.”

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics


About Health Plan of San Joaquin

Health Plan of San Joaquin, a not-for-profit, public health plan, has been serving members and the community since 1996. Located in the heart of California’s multicultural Central Valley, local HPSJ is the leading Medi-Cal managed care provider, serving over 91% of Medi-Cal recipients in San Joaquin County and over 70% in Stanislaus County. HPSJ offers a broad network of providers and works closely with doctors to develop programs and services to ensure quality health care for over 385,000 members who are mostly working families and children, as well as seniors and disabled residents.  

 Media Contact:
Jill Center
Health Plan of San Joaquin or 209.461.2372

Posted on November 17th, 2021