Question: What are some screen time guidelines for social media applications?
Answer: It can be tempting to want a set number of hours on screens that is “safe” or healthy to guide your family’s technology use. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough evidence demonstrating a benefit from specific screen time limitation guidelines. For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated their media use recommendations in 2016. These evidence-based guidelines do not give a set screen time limit that applies to all children and teens. Because children and adolescents can have many different kinds of interactions with technology, rather than setting a guideline for specific time limits on digital media use, we recommend considering the quality of interactions with digital media and not just the quantity, or amount of time.
It is important to consider the specific activities that children and teens engage in on social media, and to support them in using social media in ways that strengthen their social, emotional, cognitive and identity development. When it comes to household rules around technology use, there is evidence that rules focusing on content, co-viewing and communication are associated with better well-being outcomes than rules focused on screen time.
Resources for Parents:
- Common Sense Media published the following article titled “How Much Screen Time is OK for My Kids?” which emphasizes how quality of media use is more important than setting a screen time limit.
- Common Sense Media also provides guidance on assessing the quality of a child’s digital media use in “Are Some Types of Screen Time Better Than Others?”.
- Healthychildren.org provides guidance on how caregivers can support healthy media habits in the article “Beyond Screen Time: Help Your Kids Build Healthy Media Use Habits”.
- Healthychildren.org recommends creating a Family Media Plan to facilitate discussion around safe and practical media use that works for a family’s specific needs.
- Common Sense Education provides tips, discussion prompts, and activities for families to learn about digital citizenship together.
- The American Psychological Association recently released a health advisory on adolescent social media use. The advisory explains that social media use is not inherently harmful or beneficial, and offers a list of ten recommendations for adolescent engagement with social media.
Resources for Educators
- Common Sense Education provides a comprehensive Digital Citizenship Curriculum for each grade level k-12 which is free for educators. The curriculum covers topics including media balance & well-being, relationships, communication and cyberbullying.
Age: 9-14, 15-16, middle adolescents, early adolescents, middle school, high school
Topics: Screen time, social media
American Academy of Pediatrics