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How much is too much screen time for babies, toddlers?

How young is too young when it comes to babies and toddlers and screen time?

It’s a moment parents most parents with young kids can relate to… Your child is upset in public, so you hand them your cell phone.

“It’s easy for us as parents when we want to keep our kids entertained and we’re busy– it’s really easy to just hand over our cell phone or ipad. It’s really not good for kids,” said Pam Clasgens, Community Awareness and Prevention Director at the National Children’s Advocacy Center.

That goes for screens of all kinds: cell phones, laptops, iPads, and TV.

Clasgens says children under three years old are at an important time in their brain development, and too much screen time can negatively impact that.

“It’s a really important time in their language learning and in their social and emotional development,” said Clasgens. “So they’re learning a lot by interacting with people and the world, and when they’re using a phone, they’re not getting the interaction they would get when they’re inteacting with a parent as a person.”

It’s recommended that kids between two and five years old get no more than an hour of screen time a day.

“Parents really need to be thinking about– what can I do with my child that’s interactive and engaging and still get done what I need to do, but I’m not using that screen as a way to keep my child calm or to occupy my child’s time,” she said. “So reading books, playing, those are great things for kid– anything that we’re doing where we interact with our kids is positive.”

Clasgens said Facetime conversations with young kids and a parent or grandparent can be a positive form of screen time because it’s interactive.

Lots of screen time for young children can impact their sleep and motor skills.

“If they’re getting screen time too much– especially late in the day or right before bed, it could impact how soon they fall asleep and how much they sleep and that impacts their behavior throughout the day,” said Clasgens.”Kids who are sitting and looking at a screen– they are not playing. They are not running or jumping. Their motor skills are not developing as much as a kid who is active.”

Click here to learn more from the National Children’s Advocacy Center.