What is screen time?

Screen time is any time you spend in front of a screen. This can be on your phone, tablet, computer or TV.

How much screen time is too much?

You should be spending no more than 2 hours in front a screen every day.

Why is too much screen time so bad?

Too much screen time can cause:

  • Not spending enough time with your friends, family and doing other things you enjoy
  • Extra weight gain
  • Feeling sleepy during the day
  • Not being able to focus or pay attention in school, playing sports and doing other activities
  • High blood sugar
  • High cholesterol (a fat-like substance in your body’s cells)

How can I cut back on screen time?

Cutting back on screen time can be really hard at first and that’s okay. Over time, you will find that doing others things you enjoy, like hanging out with friends or getting outside, are just as much fun as spending time on your favorite devices.

Here are some tips for cutting back on screen time:

  • Ask yourself why you’re using your device at certain times of the day. If you’re using the device for something useful or important, that’s okay. If you’re using it because it’s cutting into homework or family time, put it away until you’re finished with whatever you’re doing.
  • Do something you enjoy that doesn’t involve a screen. Go for a walk or play your favorite sport. Read a book, write or draw. Go to a friend’s house Play with your dog. Find something fun and interesting to you.
  • Join an afterschool sports club or other activity. This lets you meet new friends with similar interests.
  • Turn off or silence your phone when you’re doing homework, spending time with people or doing something in which you need to focus. Phones and other devices can be distracting not only to you, but to others. Being distracted also means it takes longer for you to do things, like homework or chores.
  • Set timers on your apps, computer programs or TV. Timers let you use your device for a certain amount of time. Then, they lock or close so you can go do something else you enjoy.
  • Don’t keep devices in your room. You will be less tempted to use those devices if they’re out of your room.

A note for your family...

One of the best ways for your teen to cut back on screen time is for you to be a good role model. If you’re on your phone or other device a lot, there is a good chance your teen will do the same.

Set clear rules and consequences for screen time. This can include rules like no phones at the dinner table or turning off the TV after 1 show. Have clear consequences if your teen breaks the rules. Remember, you’re the parent. You can set and enforce the rules.

Rev. 7/2017. Mass General for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.