Column: How much screen time?


Commentary by Dr. Frannie Fiechter

The million-dollar question in pediatric optometry: “How much screen time is appropriate for my child?” We get asked this multiple times daily. We think it is a very important question, as it shows how much parents care about their child’s development from many aspects.

There is a wide range of researched opinions available, from no limits on screen time to some studies recommending that children under 8 have no screen time at all. Obviously, finding a happy medium between these two extremes is the key.

It can get very tricky for parents to limit screen time as many children have significant screen time at school. Realistically, there needs to be reasonable balance and appropriate limits put in place both for the development of the eyes as well as other sensory and brain development considerations in toddlers and adolescents.

We recommend parents limit screen time to less than 90 minutes per day and have the blue light setting as low as possible. Most importantly, we encourage any passive viewing of shows to be at a distance of 10 feet or more and for parents to engage in the content with their children. If the child says they can’t see from this distance, it’s time to take them in for an exam!

We also like to encourage parents to have their littles to be outdoors as much as possible, aiming for at least 90 minutes outside per day when the weather allows. A simple ratio of 1-to-1 outdoor time to screen time is a great rule of thumb. Minimizing blue light and maximizing natural sunlight is a key to success in development. This helps to maximize visual and personal development as well as keeping children active and healthy.

Email me with questions at [email protected].