Skip to main content

Your guide to screen time

Explore this article's topics:

Behaviour Making life easier at home

Screen time is a fact of life these days. And certainly the internet offers lots of great opportunities for kids to learn, have fun and stay connected to friends and family. But most of us have days when we’ve struggled to unglue them from their screens at some point, whether that’s phones and tablets, computer games or the telly. Here are some ideas for getting the most out of screen time, and some tips from parents on getting the kids off their screens and into the real world. 

Making the most of screen time

There are lots of benefits to children for spending time online, from discovering new things to keeping in touch with granny! One of the best ways for your little one to get the most out of screen time is watching high-quality programmes with you – and in small doses. Screen time can provide opportunities for language development, and can inspire their imagination and start some great games, but try not to rely too much on it as a childminder, or use it to send your child off to sleep, as looking at a screen before bedtime can actually make it harder to sleep. 

There are some really good programmes and apps out there, so choose what your child’s going to use (with your tot’s help, once they’re able to show a preference) and, if possible, sit down together to watch or play. For example, you could take a look at CBeebies or check out the Family Gaming Database or the National Literacy Trust's Literacy Apps to find games and apps suitable for the age of your child that can help spark their imagination.

When it’s over, switch off the screen. However ‘educational’ a children’s programme or app is – and many are very useful – they're not the same as interaction with you by talking and looking at books or pictures together.

As your child gets older, you’ll need to be firm about screen times. Our section on online safety has tips for talking to your child about staying safe and setting boundaries for using their devices.

When you do switch on the screen, follow the 8 useful hints here.

8 tips to help your child get the most out of screen time

Tips for getting them off their screens

We all need time to relax and be entertained and that goes for kids too. Screen time can entertain, inspire, give your child a chance for some quiet time – and give you a bit of a break from non-stop activity. But just as a diet of nothing but junk food is bad, large doses of poor quality screen time can lead to weight problems and prevent children giving their full attention to more important things, like learning to talk.

If you’re concerned that your kids are spending too much time glued to their devices, here are some tips for unsticking them. You can find more ideas here.

Tips to help limit their time online

How much screen time is too much?

You’re the expert on your child – you’ll probably already know how much screen time is too much for them. And it’s not just about the amount of time they spend on screens, but what they’re doing – video calling grandpa can never be a bad thing! Like all things, try to keep a balance between screen-based activities and offline play, exercise and plenty of fresh air.

From the parents

"My top tip would be that your kids don’t always have to be constantly entertained! They will find something to do that lets them use their imagination and creativity." – Kirsty

"I find screens make behaviour way worse than it should be! Having a variety of games you can play together can help." – Sarah

Staying safe online

Our section on online safety has lots more information on how to help keep your children safer online. 

Last updated: 24 Aug, 2023