Considering Less Screen Time for Your Child: Care Instructions

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Many families enjoy watching a favorite show or playing a video game together. And both parents and kids like texting or using social media and other apps. But too much time in front of a screen—TV, computer, tablet, smartphone, or video game—can be unhealthy.

It can affect reading, doing schoolwork, and talking with family and friends. It disrupts good sleep. The more screen time kids have, the more likely they are to eat unhealthy foods. It also cuts down on time for physical activity, such as sports or other outside play.

You may be thinking about limiting screen time, but you are not sure how to begin. You also may not be sure if your family is ready for this change. Cutting back on screen time does not mean no screens at all. It means being careful about what and how much time your child spends looking at a screen. Making this kind of change can be hard, and it takes time. You do not have to make this change all at once. Even cutting back on some screen time can help.

Your doctor can offer information and support as you think about making this change. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a tool at to help you create a plan for screen time.

How could you start to think about less screen time?

  • Think about what it would mean for your child and your family if your child has less time in front of a screen. What are the pros and cons?
  • Ask yourself what your child would do with that free time.
  • If you were to change your child's viewing habits tomorrow, how would you begin?
  • You can make one or two changes and see how it works. For example, for 1 week cut back by 1 hour a day the amount of time your child spends in front of a screen.

Remember that you can control how fast you make any changes. Making small, gradual changes to how you and your family spend time using devices will help you maintain the changes.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.