Screen Time Guidelines

DID YOU KNOW that children who watch a lot of TV, Video Games and Movies tend to:

Perform worse in school.

  • They spend less time reading.
  • They have shorter attention spans.
  • Their vocabulary is not as highly developed.
  • They develop eye problems much

Be more overweight.

  • They snack excessively while watching TV.
  • They see food in programs and ads that promote unhealthy eating choices.
  • They tend to exercise less.

Act the way TV/Movie characters act.

  • Children as young as 1 year old learn behaviors from television.
  • Children imitate actions and scripts from TV programs instead of creating their own play ideas.

See ads that are harmful to them.

  • Children under the age of 6 cannot tell the difference between an ad and a show.
  • Children are encouraged to nag their parents for things they see on TV.
  • Children learn to see violence as an acceptable form of play and way to solve problems.


Reduce the role of TV, Video Games and Computers in your family.

  • Agree to limit the time spent watching television/playing video games. (to one hour a day, for example)
  • Use a TV guide to help choose programs with your child.

Help your child turn off the TV/Video Game/Computer.

  • Give your child a warning a few minutes before it’s time to switch off.
  • Help your child come up with things to do other than TV/Video Games/Surf the Web.
  • Watch TV with your kids and discuss what you’re watching.

Some conversation starters:

    • What did you think about that show/game?
    • Did you like it when ____happened?
    • Why do you think it happened?
    • What was pretend and what was real? How could you tell?
    • How can we tell the difference between the ads and the show?
    • What would you do if you were in that situation?
    • What do you think about how ______solved their problem?
    • If you had a problem like that, what could you do/say?
    • Can you think of a peaceful way to solve that problem?
    • I wonder, why is it usually the male characters that fight?
    • I’ve noticed that women need to be rescued by men a lot. Have you noticed that? I wonder why?
    • I wonder, why do the “bad guys” have foreign accents? Wear dark colors? Have darker skin?
    • Go to your local library. A library card is free!
    • Participate in library sponsored activities: story time, puppet shows, and craft activities.
    • Have a family game night. Play board games, cards.
    • Read books and tell stories together. Listen to books on CD/MP3.
    • Start a journal, scrapbook, or photo album.
    • Have art supplies available: crayons, play dough, colored pencils, paper
    • Sing songs or listen to music.
    • Go for a walk.
    • Do puzzles.
    • Make sure TV snacks are healthy: apple slices, cheese or peanut butter and crackers, raw vegetables
    • Resist junk food advertised on TV.
    • Eat together as a family without the TV.
    • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV or videos for children under age 2.
    • Regularly watching TV for 10 or more hours a week has been shown to negatively affect academic performance.
    • The foods featured on TV are usually very unhealthy (high in sugar and fat) and contribute to obesity.
    • Entertainment violence is stores in the brain as if it were a real experience. This “memory” can negatively affect behavior.
    • Children and adolescents in the United States spend 22 to 28 hours a week watching TV. By the time they are 70 they will have spent 7 to 10 years watching TV.
    • Find appealing non-TV activities for your family.
    • Promote healthy eating habits.
    • Get support from family and community. Talk to other parents, teachers, and caregivers about your efforts to limit your child’s TV viewing.

Important Facts and Figures