Fort Worth, Texas,
10:04 AM

11 Facts About Screen Time Rules for Kids

Doc Smitty looks at AAP guidelines

Did you child receive a phone, tablet or TV this year for Christmas? 

Have you seen or talked to them since?

Whether it’s a phone, a tablet or the TV, there’s no denying that the use of screens and media have changed childhood and parenting. Do you have a child that seems addicted to their screen?

With any change, there is potential good and potential harm. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has changed their stance recently based on the current state of research on the use of screen time on children and adolescents.

If you have time (and are a little nerdy), I strongly recommend that you read them:

Media and Young Minds

Media Use in School-Aged Children and Adolescents

Children and Adolescents and Digital Media

It’s a total of about 30 pages of work. But, given the current state of how these affect our children and parenting styles, and the practice of pediatrics, there are fewer more important papers you could read.

AAP reccomendations include limiting screen time to 1 hour per day of for children 2 to 5 years of age. For kids 6 and older, be consistent with the amount of time looking at the screen and don't let it interfere with sleep, physical activity and other activities essential to good health.

In case you don’t have time, here are 11 key facts you should know about the new guidelines:

1. The average age children interact with media in 1970: 4 years; Today - 4 months.

2. You have to teach your toddler to talk, a device can't. Limit solo screen time until 2 years of age.

3.Under 18 months = Video Chat Only. 18-24 months = Choose high quality apps and play with child. Reteach what they are learning if you want any benefit.

4.Children must learn to sooth themselves without a screen. Don’t hand the phone over at the first sign of trouble.

5.Screen free zones are critical = 1) Dinner 2) Meal times 3) Bedroom 4) During play time (yes, parent, that means your phone too).

6.Media use is not ALL bad in teenagers: 1) Knowledge 2) Collaboration 3) Social support

7.Media use and overuse in teens can lead to many problems: 1) Obesity 2) Poor sleep 3) Problematic internet/gaming (addiction).

8.Is monitoring your teen's phone/device enough? No. You can't see/watch everything. You must teach them core values as well.

9.It’s not just kids struggling with these issues. Distracted parenting is a real problem as well across child ages.

10.If you want to succeed in this struggle, you must have a plan. Try out this great free tool from @AmerAcadPeds :

11.Just because an app or show is listed as educational, doesn't mean that it is ... do your own research and watch/play with child first.

Get to know Justin Smith, M.D.

Justin Smith, M.D., is a pediatrician in Trophy Club  and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Smith is an experienced keynote speaker for a variety of topics including pediatric/parenting topics, healthcare social media and physician leadership. If you are interested in having Dr. Smith present to your conference or meeting, please contact him at

He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles. Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” open now. Click here to make an appointment, call 817-347-8100.


Comments 1 - 2 (2)
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Julia Smith
This expereince was fantastico! Thanks for creating this website.
Thank you for sharing this info. I have four children who love their iPads and think life has ended when their time is up. Luckily we set ground rules from the very beginning. During the week they average 30 minutes a day. It's weekend that are the hardest.