My patient brought in her 1.5 year old for an eye exam last week because she was concerned about how much time he spends on an iPad. He enjoys watching videos for an average of 2 hours per day. So what is too much screen time for a child?
Here are some guidelines for use of handheld devices from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics:
Infants 0-2 years — No handheld devices
Children 3-5 years — One hour per day
Children/teens 6-18 years — Two hours per day
These guidelines are based on several reasons. Rapid brain growth occurs from 0-2 years continuing to age 21 and a variety of environmental stimuli is necessary for this development to occur. Some studies have also shown that excessive use of handheld devices delays cognitive development, impairs learning, causes obesity, sleep deprivation, and mental illness. In terms of vision development, children need to use their focusing system and eye muscles to track objects far and close. It is also critical to develop their hand-eye coordination. Playing outside is a great way to work on all of those skills.
image source: goodereader.com