How to Limit Your Kids' Screen Time

  • 01 of 03

    Limit Screen Time: How to Follow the AAP's Guidelines

    Kids using iPads.
    Use an app to limit your kids' iPad use. Hero Images/Getty Images

    Screen time refers to watching TV, playing video games, and using handheld gaming devices, including tablets. And while the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has long encouraged parents of toddlers under two not to introduce screen time at all, and parents of children older than two to limit screen time use to two hours per day, those guidelines are hard to follow in today's screen-soaked society. We joke about our devices 'babysitting' our kids, but we also need to put limits in...MORE place so that our kids can grow up living balanced lives. 

    The effort to create balance is even more challenging for single moms and dads, who 'do it all' daily, without the help of a partner. Yet, it is possible to limit your kids' screen time with these tips:

    • How to Limit Your Kids' TV Time
    • How to Limit Your Kids' Video Game Use


    Brown, Ari, Donald L. Shifrin, et. al. Beyond 'turn it off: How to advice families on media use. American Academy of Pediatrics. Sept. 28, 2015.

    Continue to 2 of 3 below.
  • 02 of 03

    Practical Ways to Limit TV Time at Home

    Young kids watching TV
    Limit your kids TV time to under two hour per day. Christopher Hope-Fitch/Getty Images

    If your child is watching more than two hours of television per day, you'll want to spend some time working on a plan to reduce his or her screen time. To limit TV time at home:

    • Don't use the TV as background noise. Only have it on if someone is sitting down watching a specific program.
    • Use the sleep feature on your television to force the TV to shut itself off after thirty minutes.
    • Allow your child to choose specific programs. Wait until the selected show is on to turn on the TV.
    • Record a...MORE few of your child's favorite shows and allow him or her to view them at specific times during the week. Once they've been watched, delete them from the recording device.
    • Avoid using TV as part of your family's regular bedtime routine. Instead, read a book together or allow your child to listen to an audio book.
    • Provide a TV viewing chart for your children, and teach them to plan out the shows they'd like to watch during the week.
    • Avoid using the television during play dates. Instead, let the kids enjoy playing together.
    • Finally, choose your child's television programs carefully, and take the time to preview shows together. Talk about what you like about certain shows, and what gives you caution about the shows you do not care for.

    Next up: Practical Ways to Limit Video Games at Home

    Continue to 3 of 3 below.
  • 03 of 03

    Practical Ways to Limit Video Games at Home

    Two boys playing video games
    Limit your kids' video game time to less than two hours per day. PeopleImages/Getty Images

    The American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation that parents limit screen time to no more than two hours per day includes television, videos/DVDs, and video games. If your child currently plays several hours of video games each day, either through a video game console or handheld device, you'll want to put a plan in place to limit video games at home and replace that time with other activities. For example:

    • Allow your child to play for a set number of minutes per day. For example, you...MORE might decide that twenty minutes per day is sufficient.
    • Another alternative is to set two days out of the week as "video game" days. You might choose one weekend day and one weekday and find that the numbers, over the course of the week, even out.
    • Bring handheld video games to social events only on special occasions. If the device accompanies every trip to a friend's house and each errand you run during the week, it's likely that your child is racking up quite a few hours of playing time.
    • When your children's friends gather at your house, limit the amount of time they play video games. After twenty-thirty minutes of taking turns playing, suggest that the children move on to something else.
    • Don't forget to include computer games when you're thinking about how much time your child spends on video games. Even the best educational games shouldn't be played continuously.
    • Set aside some time for going to the park, playing board games, or doing other fun (non-screen time) activities.
    • Finally, talk to your child about why you want to reduce his or her screen time.