According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), kids spend an average of seven hours a day on screens. While this may include doing homework or watching an educational program with the whole family, limiting your child’s access might be in their best interest.
So, how much screen time is too much for a 10-year-old? Find helpful insight, tips, and guidance below.
Daily screen time for 10-year-olds
The AAP recommends no more than two hours of daily screen time for 10-year-olds, including TV shows, movies, video games, social media, and short video content like YouTube. Their recommendations look different for younger children.
The concern with “too much” screen time
Is it that big a deal to allow an hour or two more of TV? Going over the limit doesn’t automatically mean your child will struggle in school or lash out at home. But statistically speaking, too much screen time increases the risk of obesity, sleep issues, violent tendencies (when violent images are on the screen), and other behavioral issues. Additionally, it leaves less time for beneficial activities like reading, art projects, social interaction, and outdoor play.
Making rules and setting limits
The AAP’s Family Media Use Plan makes it easy to outline a healthy balance of media use and other activities for different childhood stages. Once you figure out how much screen time to allow, you’ll want to communicate the rules. (The Media Use Plan has tips for this too.)
Explain what your child’s daily limit is, when screen time is allowed (such as only after school or dinner), and what they need to do beforehand (like finishing their homework or doing a chore). You can set a timer or use the built-in parental controls on your devices to limit the amount of time and which hours of the day your child can use them.
Exceptions to screen time limits
Up to two hours of daily screen time is a great goal. But there might be exceptions where you allow a bit more, like sick days, school closures, plane travel, road trips, having friends over, birthdays, and assigned schoolwork and projects. In addition, children who are isolated, chronically ill or who are looking for a welcoming community (like an LGBTQ+ community) may benefit greatly from access to screens.
Teaching healthy media behaviors
About two-thirds of kids between 9 and 11 regularly use a smartphone, and about 10% use social media. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to navigating media with preteens, but teaching healthy online behaviors is a good place to start.
Talk to your child about what they can use digital devices for, such as watching age-appropriate movies and shows, listening to music, and calling friends. You’ll also want to go over what’s not OK, like chatting with strangers, cyberbullying, sending pictures of themselves, and sharing personal information. Monitoring their accounts is essential, kids at this age shouldn’t have any expectation that their account is “just for them.”
Other helpful ideas (beyond time limits)
- Keep screens out of the bedroom always.
- Snacks/meals and screen time are best kept separate.
- Delay social media use for as long as possible — and closely monitor accounts.
- Once homework starts coming home, avoid use of screens (even in the background) while academic work is being done.
- Challenge yourself and other adults in the home to decrease screen use in the presence of children. Young children need responsive interaction, and our responsible use of screens is also very important.
Being realistic about the modern world
While you probably had significantly less access to media as an adolescent, it’s OK to accept that the world your child is growing up in is vastly different than when you were a kid. It can be hard to keep up with the latest apps and trends! Not only is there more access today, but smartphones and laptops are becoming standard for school work.
It’s wise to set limits and monitor the content your child sees. Still, there’s something to be said about encouraging digital literacy, enjoying new movies, and allowing kids to participate in age-appropriate pop culture.
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Screen time and children: How to guide your child. Mayo Clinic. Healthy Lifestyle. 2022. Web.
- Hill D, et al. Media and Young Minds. Pediatrics. 2016. 138 (5): e20162591. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2016-2591
- American Academy of Pediatrics. Ratings: Making Healthy Media Choices. Pediatric Patient Education.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. Beyond Screen Time: A Parent’s Guide to Media Use. Pediatric Patient Education. 2021. doi.org/10.1542/peo_document099
- Hill D, et al. Media Use in School-Aged Children and Adolescents. Pediatrics. 138 (5): e20162592. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2016-2592
- American Academy of Pediatrics. Media and Children. 2021. Web.
- Auxier B, et al. Children’s engagement with digital devices, screen time. Pew Research Center. 2020. Web.