Screen Time Paradigm

Dr. Mom explores how much screen time your child should get.

Growing up, my parents let my brother and me watch unlimited amounts of TV. I remember growing up not understanding why other children had limited TV time. However, once I became a family physician I told parents what was recommended by the Canadian Pediatric Association: Young children learn best from face-to-face interactions with caring adults. It’s best to keep their screen time to a minimum:

  • For children under 2 years old, screen time is not recommended.
  • For children 2 to 5 years old, limit routine or regular screen time to less than 1 hour per day.

As a physician, I thought it was easy to keep children away from screens, but as a mom I know how crazy hard it is. From the time Madi was 6 months old, she was drawn to electronics — she loved remote controls, phones and especially the TV. (She was just like her momma!) I fought with relatives who let her watch YouTube on their phones, and especially my mom who loved nothing more than to watch Korean videos with Madi.

At about 15 months, I started letting her watch movies or YouTube for about an hour a day. She laughs during the funny parts of the shows and jumps when the other characters jump. I know that there are risks of excess screen time, such as increases risk of obesity, inattention, and school difficulty, but keeping her away from screens is hard!

As a mother, I can see the benefits of television/iPads — Madi really enjoys it and she seems engaged! As a physician, I worry as the medical evidence suggests that there risks with introducing screen time early and risks with excess screen time. When my doctor side and my mom side don’t agree, I have to trust my instincts. I decided to let her have screen time, but in moderation.

DISCLAIMER: This blog reflects my personal experience as a new mother. The content on this blog is provided solely for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for informed medical advice. Please seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health care professional regarding medical conditions or questions.


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