Unplug! Limiting Screen Time


Did you know?

  •  As the amount of screen time increases, the amount of hands-on creative play decreases.
  • Children consume 167 more calories for each hour of television watched.
  • One 30-second food commercial can influence the food preferences of children as young as age 2.
  • 40% of 3-month old infants view screen media regularly.
  • Screen time for children under 3 is linked to irregular sleep patterns and delayed language acquisition.
  • On average, preschool children spend 32 hours a week with screen media.

 Why less screen time is better

  • Less screen time early on leads to positive outcomes later in childhood, such as doing better in school, eating a healthier diet and being more physically active.
  • Less screen time leads families to spend their time in other ways, like reading or talking. These activities promote early literacy and early learning.
  • Less screen time for children means they have more time for active play, creative play and hands-on play. All of these are important for early learning, critical thinking, building problem-solving skills and gaining a self-confidence and self-control.
  • Less screen time means children are exposed to fewer ads and commercials for foods and beverages that are high in fat and sugar. This can make it easier for you to encourage healthy choices because children are focused on the foods offered to them instead of what they saw in an ad. It can also make shopping trips a more enjoyable experience!

Screen Time Recommendations

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

  •  Zero hours of screen-time for children under 2
  • Less than 2 hours per day for older children (Remember the less the better!)
  • A screen-free environment in children’s bedrooms

What counts as screen time?

Television: This includes time spent watching, as well as those times when the TV is on in the background.

Movies: This includes both movies watched at home and in theaters.

Computers: All kinds fit into this category, whether it’s a laptop, desktop and even tablets.

Videogames: All videogames count as screen time, even those that get you moving more.

Smart Phones: Yep, whether surfing the web, watching videos or playing games, these count!

E-Books: While reading is great, e-books provide a different experience to young children. Time reading with technology can shift the focus to how to use the device rather than literacy.

Screen Time

Do It Yourself Activity Instructions

What can replace screen time?

  1. Read through the 101 Screen-Free Activities.
  2. Star the activities that you and your family already do.
  3. Circle the activities that you would be interested in doing.
  4. Pick three activities that you are willing to do in the next week. Draw an arrow next to these.
  5. Make a pledge to unplug! Choose which options you will commit to and fill in the blanks! Don’t forget to sign and date it. Put your pledge card in a prominent place where it will be a reminder. Think about making a pledge with family friends! You can check in each week to see how your screen-free activities are going!  

Materials for the Unplug! learning center


Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. Screen-Free Week Organizer’s Kit. Retrieved from www.screenfree.org.

Council for Communications and Media. (2011). Media Use by Children Younger Than 2 Years. Pediatrics, 128(5), pages 1-6.

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