Developing healthy screen-use habits

How many screens are in your household? As of 2016, an average home had at least seven connected devices[1]! This looks like having one television, one laptop, two smartphones, and one tablet. While these devices can help prepare a healthy meal for your family or provide directions to the local playground, they can also become a hazard to one’s health.

While it’s great to have technology where you can always be in touch with your family, it’s critical to think about the adverse effects that too much screen time can have on your health. Some examples from the American Academy of Pediatrics[2] include:

  • Increased risk of obesity
  • Sleep problems
  • Negative effect on school performance
  • Cyberbullying

The American Academy of Pediatrics[3] recommends the following:

Age Range


Children younger than 18 months

Avoid use of screen media
Children 18-24 months Introduce children to “high-quality programming” and watch with your child to help them understand what is on the screen.
Children ages 2-5 Limit screen usage to 1 hour per day
Children ages 6 and older Develop together “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”

The way to create healthy screen habits is to start a conversation and begin monitoring you and your family’s usage of these devices. Experts recommend that families develop a media plan that considers health, education, and entertainment needs of both youth and parents or caregivers. Spend some time talking over what you and your family’s screen habits and needs are so that you can create a family culture that gets the benefits of technology while also keeping everyone healthy.

Photo courtesy of the American Academy of Pediatrics

[1] Cantech Letter. Households device usage report.

[1] American Academy of Pediatrics’ Healthy Children Website.

[1] American Academy of Pediatrics. New Recommendations for Children’s Media Use. October 2016.

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