Tech Use During the Holidays: Limiting Screen Time for Kids

The holidays are such a great time of year, especially when you’ve got kids! Seeing the magic through their eyes is something special. As they settle into the break from school, it’s tempting for them to sit down in front of a screen for most of the day. That extra time around the house sometimes leaves parents wondering what is a good amount of screen time? Whether their time is on a game, tablet, TV, or social media, there are different things to consider when limiting screen time for kids.

Should you limit your child’s screen time?

No matter what type of electronic device your kids are using, the short answer is that yes, screen time should be limited. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reports kids in the US average 4-6 hours of screen time per day. Certainly not all screen time is bad! Sometimes it’s used for education, hobbies and skill development, or keeping in contact with family or friends who no longer live close by. Particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, screen time was often tied to school work and social connection. But even with so many positive uses for our devices, you might still find yourself Googling, “is 13 hours of screen time bad?” or “how do I limit my teen’s screen time?” Let’s take a look at the AACAP’s recommendations, plus tips for how to reduce screen time!

  • 0-18 months: Video chats only (such as a parent deployed or grandparents in another state). The beauty of modern tech is that we can show off our cute babies to our family in real time!
    • Reduction tip: Rather than playing a show in the background, turn off the screen while the baby plays.
  • 18 months-2 years: Educational programming only. Most kid’s shows provide learning activities like counting, learning another language, or moral lessons. 
    • Reduction tip: Let your little one watch just one episode of their favorite shows per day. Let them know this new rule ahead of time and suggest a fun activity to follow the show!
  • 2-5 years: 1 hour of non-educational programming on weekdays and up to 3 hours on weekends. This is the fun age range when kids are starting to sit through movies and you can introduce them to your own childhood favorites! 
    • Reduction tip: If your kids are watching a movie, consider swapping out further TV time or time spent on a tablet for something creative or active instead. 
  • 6 years +: Tech use may increase as kids go to school. As kids grow, work as a family to set healthy limits around tech use that will fit your family’s needs and interests. Some ideas include: 
    • Use the Parent Portal on your kids’ Troomi phones to set schedules around when certain apps can be used.
    • Have house rules such as no phones at the dinner table or TV time ends an hour before bedtime. House rules are great if you’ve been wondering how to limit your child’s screen time because the teens and adults in the house follow them too. This makes it fair for everyone and helps you reduce your own screen time!
    • Encourage activities such as reading, painting, or playing outside, before and after screen time.  
  • Teens: You’d be hard pressed to find a teen not immersed in technology, and not necessarily by choice. Technology is the future! Help your teen balance tech use today so those good habits set them up for a successful tomorrow.  
    • Try making a change to a screen routine together. Make positive change as you cheer each other on!
    • Use boundaries like screen time settings to help out when technology use is just too tempting to self-regulate.
    • Consider a device like Troomi, where settings can all be adjusted in real-time by the parent to adapt to the needs of your child and family.

How to reduce screen time for toddlers who are in the habit of regular use

It’s easy for all of us to fall into patterns before we realize it! If we find our kids, and especially the littlest ones, are on devices more often than we would like them to be, we might feel a bit overwhelmed. It can seem a bit daunting to think about changing habits for younger kids, especially ones still working through tantrums. But there is no need to worry! Even your toddlers are capable of having a conversation about new rules. And when the time comes to take away the tablet or turn off the TV, their curious minds will eventually warm up to the idea of a new game, arts and crafts activity, or being outside! Replacing old habits with new ones is key for any age and littles are oh-so adaptable!