How Much Screen Time Is Too Much for Kids?

Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.

Dr. Lisa Coyne talks about screen time for kids and answers questions about children’s digital habits.

As the ways to connect digitally continue to expand, having regular screen time can be good for you—and your family. But what’s the tipping point for too much screen time? How can it affect the mental health of your children? Equally as important—is there a way to maintain the balance of “just enough” screen time?

This content is also available in Spanish.

Audience Questions

  • Are there appropriate or optimal screen time limits for kids of different age groups? For example, toddlers, tweens, etc.
  • What are some ways for kids to learn non-digitally? How can they use their literal digits—their fingers—for tactile purposes? How about physical exercise? What’s the right balance?
  • Is there a difference in screen time limits for kids who are engaging, social, etc. when away from screens versus kids who aren’t?
  • Is there a connection between violent images, lack of empathy, impulsivity and violence? My children are 8 and 11, and I’m worried about the impact of these images and screen time on their developing brains.
  • How do we help regulate teen screen time, including their late-night usage? Teen bedtimes are being reported as 2, 3, or 4am with consistent phone use.
  • At what point should you let your teen take full responsibility of their screen time and usage?
  • If my kid is remote learning, how can I motivate them to stay engaged in their classes online?
  • Can you talk a little bit about screen time for leisure and screen time for schoolwork? I know adults who have a hard time differentiating, too. So how do we help people from all walks of life navigate this?
  • My kid is obsessed with screens. If they have to put screens away, they throw a huge tantrum and yell at us. It’s incredibly hard because we’ve been really good during the pandemic, and this is a way for them to connect with friends. We’ve tried socially distant play dates, but some days are too tough to manage. How can we connect our child to friends without having a device?
  • During the pandemic, my partners and I have been working from home. I’ve had to put my child in front of a screen during our working hours. I know this can’t go on, but I feel stuck. Am I damaging my child’s brain? How else can I occupy my child while we’re working from home and can’t get a sitter?
  • My kid is obsessed with video games. Whenever my partner and I have to work and cannot be with him—despite us working remotely—all he wants to do is play video games and has absolutely no interest in reading. Even when we severely limit his screen time, he refuses to read. How can we help motivate him to take part in independent, tactile play?
  • I know I’m the parent and the one in charge, but even I am struggling to respond to “I’m bored and there’s nothing else to do.” Any advice?


Dr. Coyne mentioned these resources in her talk:

These journal articles were discussed during this webinar:

About Dr. Coyne

Lisa W. Coyne, PhD, is an assistant professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, part-time, at Harvard Medical School, and is a senior clinical consultant at the Child and Adolescent OCD Institute (OCDI Jr.) at McLean Hospital.

Dr. Coyne has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and chapters on anxiety, OCD, and parenting. She is the author of “The Joy of Parenting: An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Guide to Effective Parenting in the Early Years,” a book for parents of young children.

Recent books by Dr. Coyne:

Learn more about Dr. Coyne.

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