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Publication #FAR0132

Limits on Screen Time1

Suzanna Smith2

Figure 1. 
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I have a friend whose children have easy access to TV, video games, and the computer, and given that they can choose when they want to watch, they are in front of a screen a lot. Recently my friend and I were talking about the recommendation by experts that children should be limited to no more than two hours of media time a day because of the many negative impacts on child and adolescent health, behavior, and school performance (Carlson, Fulton, Lee, Foley, Heitzler, & Huhman, 2010). Much to her children’s dismay, she decided to set up some rules for how long they can be in front of a screen.

My friend is like a lot of parents around the country. Reporting in the journal, Pediatrics, in 2010, researchers (Carlson, Fulton, Lee, Foley, Heitzler, & Huhman, 2010) found that even though most parents knew that experts recommend 2 hour limits on screen time, “fewer than half of the parents” had consistent rules limiting TV use and a little more than a third of their children (37 percent) “agreed that their parents had rules” about television watching (e91).

Children and teens who said their parents had limits on time for TV and video games were less likely to watch more than two hours. In addition, children who were involved in sports were less likely to exceed two hours of screen time.

The researchers urge educators to inform parents and children about the importance of limiting screen time, and parents to become better informed about how to implement consistent rules about screen time limits. For children, becoming involved in sports and other physical activity may also help decrease screen time and lead to better overall health.

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Carlson, S. A., Fulton, J. E., Lee, S. M., Foley, J. T., Heitzler, C. & Huhman, M. (2010). Influence of limit-setting and participation in physical activity on youth screen time. Pediatrics, 126, e89-e97.



This document is FAR0132, one of a series of the UF/IFAS Department of Family Youth and Community Sciences, University of Florida/IFAS Extension. Original broadcast date June 2010, as program 812. Published on EDIS August 2013. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Suzanna Smith, associate professor, UF/IFAS Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, University of Florida/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.