According to a report by Common Sense Media, in 2013, kids 8 and under spent about 15 minutes per day staring at a mobile screen.[1] Today, that number has jumped to over 2 hours. Older kids spend even more time in front of screens.

While phones, tablets and computers are sometimes necessary for things like schoolwork, too much screen time can be harmful to a child’s physical and mental health.

Kids’ brains develop at fast rates, and they need real-life experiences to support this growth. Spending too much time in front of a screen can lead to:

  • Shorter attention spans
  • Poorer social skills
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Behavior problems
  • Vision problems and more

In a study published in the journal Developmental Psychology, researchers discovered kids who spent more time in front of screens spent less time sleeping and reading — which led to lower grades in school.[2]

Another result of too much time in front of the TV, phone, tablet or computer? An inactive lifestyle. Kids need 60 minutes of physical activity a day. The more time they spend with a device in their hand, the less time they spend with a ball, glove or jump rope in their hand. Learn more about why it’s important to be physically active here.

So how much screen time is too much? When your kids aren’t using their screens for their homework, no more than 1 hour of additional screen time is recommended. Do what works best for your family — just be sure your child gets 60 minutes of activity each day.

Try these 3 helpful tips, too:

1. Role model.

Parents are a child’s biggest influence. Limit the amount of time you spend on your phone or watching TV. Find an active game to play with your kids instead, like these family-friendly activities.

2. Set limits.

Establish rules about where and when they can use their phones or watch TV. Trying to get dinner ready? Limited amounts of screen time can be okay but also try to involve your kids in dinner prep. It might make them more likely to eat what’s served. Just remember to limit screen time to less than 2 hours a day.

3. Make activity fun.

When you power down your devices, turn up the creativity. If it’s nice out, play a game in the backyard or at the park. If it’s chilly, build an indoor obstacle course or have a jumping jack contest. You can even make up a new game — or try these playful, themed activities too.

Don’t forget — physical activity is just as important for adults. You need 30 minutes movement every day.

So once you read this article… put down your screen, gather your family and get active today!

[1] https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/08/28/343735856/kids-and-screen-time-what-does-the-research-say

[2] https://www.cnn.com/2017/10/19/health/children-smartphone-tablet-use-report/index.html