Screen time usage - Are there fact based guidelines?

Hi all, I am interested to see if there is industry standards categorised by age for example…

Children aged 8 - 10 Daily Limit: Snapchat 10 mins, Instagram 10 mins, Browsing 30 mins etc etc Total Screen Time Use (Weekday) - 50 mins

Also, for screen addition, is there guidelines available to reduce usage over a specific timeline? As with all addictions going ‘cold turkey’ is unlikely to yield positive long term results.


Hi Karl!

Not a direct answer to your question, but I was just reading this today that you may find relevant.

Dr. Sonia Livingstone is also a great resource when it comes to this subject.

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There are some guidelines here (scroll down a bit) – can’t personally vouch for the quality of the research or outputs

Hi Karl,

The American Academy of Pediatrics outlines their guidelines as follows:

Among the AAP recommendations:

  • For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.
  • For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
  • For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
  • Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
  • Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.

When I am speaking with families, I always encourage them to do what is best for their family. I also “empower them” by suggesting a helpful tool such as the Family Media Use Plan. The AAP’s recommendations are embedded with the template; however, each family can tailor it to the members in their family and make adjustments where needed.

The Family Media Use Plan tool is available @ A preview version is available for journalists to review at

I remind families that it is never about “banning technology.” It is about “balancing it.”
Hope this is helpful.


This is super helpful, thanks for sharing.

I’ll add here it is perfectly ok for a family to have a low to no tech existence. A family media plan can include severe limits if that suits functioning. Some parents know their kids are at higher risk for screen addiction based on knowing the child Best. Technology is a tool and not a way of living, and kids will learn how to function in a tech world better than we ever did- we should respect each families choice for any family media plan- lots of tech or none. As long as we make informed choices, we can live with the consequences.

I say this after seeing 20 something’s come out of medical school bumping into walls and people staring at screens- the developmental displacement of those years with screen time is gone forever- and we really don’t know where the screen addiction came from… Every family media plan should be made with careful thought- and re-evaluated again and again.


Agree completely! Beautifully expressed.

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Hi Karl! Thank you for this question.

It would be fantastic if we had such specific guidelines for screen-use, and for each platform like in your example. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough data to even get all experts to agree that excessive screen use IS actually an issue at the moment.

When I speak to both clients and friends who have kids, I always advise no screens of any kind before the age of 2 for sure, but ideally 3. There just simply isn’t any need for them. The physical and psycho-emotional milestones children need to reach at that age require only one ‘device’- the parent. FaceTime with relatives and friends who are far away is perfectly fine though (as long as the child is kept a good distance away from the screen, due to ongoing eye development).

Past this age it gets a bit tricky, again, due to a lack of conclusive research. And this is where we can really empower parents because they know their children best - we can support and coach them through identifying the limits for their children. Some of the questions they can ask themselves are: are my kids really learning new and/or useful things, are my kids really strengthening relationships by using devices, are my kids strengthening their imagination muscle by using tech, is tech helping my kids develop their learning habits? We also need to help parents strengthen their ability to stay attuned to their children’s emotional signalling, so that they can tell if their child is becoming overwhelmed by tech, suffering from FOMO, and using tech to alleviate boredom, to name a few. To do this, we of course need to help parents learn to look up from their own devices more often too!

I second the comment about Dr. Livingstone - I follow her on social media and really love her measured but firm views. Recently, her and Dr. Jean Twenge exchanged some words on Twitter which I found quite interesting to observe! Another good person to follow is Dr. Victoria Dunkley who is quite outspoken about tech-detox for youth, and Dr. Jenny Radesky is another important figure for this issue from the American Academy of Pediatrics. I also like UK-based as they have a good amount of research and practical advice.

Hope some of this is useful!

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Thank you for all your replies. A lot of really well informed posts which shall keep me busy over the next while.

From the looks of things, much like the tech itself, the advice is fragmented and you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Would be great for someone to stick their neck out and say “this advice is not written in stone but if you have children of X,Y and Z then these are the hard rules to stick with backed by X,Y and Z research”.

For family digital audits, is their anybody of note to keep an eye on?

YES i love your conclusion as nowadays and for better tomorrows we need to develop a healthy online/offline balance !

@Karl_McC yes this can be confusing with all the information out there. But this may become simpler than we think. Just like dieting or whether to drink wine everyday or abstain altogether- it depends on the individual. Some people would be on skid row drinking everyday- others do this with no problem at all.

It’s all about informed choices, getting the information we need to make a choice. We need to trust ourselves with the information we have each day and make choices. If a teen is depressed and is not socializing face to face with people something has to be done- make a change until something works.

We are all so different so we will all have different answers. The key is respecting each others plan of care. Because let’s face it- we would never tell a friend to go on a diet.

“Teens agree they have too much screentime.”

Check out this article on teens and screentime- this study states teens have concerns their screen use is type addictive behavior.

Like other compulsive behaviors- excessive screen use one has tried to cut back on is clinically considered an addiction.

Like 20 something’s, I think we need to listen to them. Ask them to put the phone down- invite them over and ask them to bring friends- chaperone at a distance to encourage independence so they can just be teens and talk and goof off face to face like we all did…

Some mixed experiences on technology in the classroom, and pointers to research:


GlowKids by Dr. Nicholas Kardaras is a great book with some suggestions as to limits and even suggests no hand-held devices/ tablets until at least 4th grade. He is an addiction therapist and offers lots of information. He’s done plenty of interviews and does have conferences as well.


WHO guidelines on the use of any electronic screen devices for children.


Amazing! This is a really good resource!