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Reduce Screen Time

Kids and their grandfather playing basketball

Limit Computer Time and Television Usage

For many of us, limiting our computer use and getting away from all screens can be a challenge. "Screen time" means television screens, computer monitors, and even the handheld devices we use for checking email, listening to music, watching TV, and playing video games on the go.

Health experts say screen time at home should be limited to two hours or less a day. The time we spend in front of the screen, unless it's work- or homework-related, could be better spent being more physically active (increasing our energy out).

As a parent or caregiver, you can set a good example for your kids and set rules that limit their computer time, TV watching, and video game playing to reduce how much time they spend in front of a screen. Research by the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation shows that setting rules about media use is hard for many parents.

In 8- to 18-year-olds:

  • 28% said their parents set TV-watching rules
  • 30% said their parents set rules about video game use
  • 36% said their parents set rules about computer use

However, the same study also showed that when parents set any media rules, children's media use is almost three hours lower per day.

Other Screen-Time Statistics
(Source: Henry J. Kaiser Foundation, "Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year Olds," January 2010)
Children ages 8–18 spend the following amount of time in front of the screen each day:
  • Approximately 7.5 hours using entertainment media
  • Approximately 4.5 hours watching TV
  • Approximately 1.5 hours on the computer
  • Over an hour playing video games
These data lie in stark contrast to the 25 minutes per day that children spend reading books.

Today's youth also have the following media in their bedrooms:

  • More than one in three have a computer, and Internet access
  • Half have video game players
  • More than two out of three have TVs
    • Those with bedroom TVs spend an hour more in front of the screen than those without TVs

Screen Time Reduction Tools

The following tools may help you and your family reduce screen time and increase ENERGY OUT. For more information, visit the Tips to Reduce Screen Time page.

Last Updated: February 13, 2013