May 01, 2020

Is it normal for my grandson to play games on his tablet all of the time?

Q: It seems like my grandson wants to play games on his tablet all the time, and it's hard to get him unplugged. Is this normal?

A: Yes, it's normal in the sense that young people have more access to "screen time" than ever before. However, that doesn't mean it's healthy.

Technology provides kids opportunities to learn about their world, expand their imaginations, and connect positively with friends and family. However, the danger comes when kids are allowed too much screen time, which can lead to speech delays, inactivity, obesity and mental health challenges, including stress, isolation and depression. There's also danger in unhealthy content that is violent, is overly commercialized, involves bullying or is otherwise negative. Screen time can interfere with sleep, and it's recommended that screens be kept out of bedrooms and put away at least an hour before bedtime.

Mayo Clinic pediatricians recommend no screen time for children younger than 18 months, though interaction with relatives via video chats is an important exception. Keep screen time for toddlers age 18 months to 2 years limited to situations where the caregiver is watching with the child in an interactive and educational way. In this age group, there's no evidence that programming advertised as educational is beneficial. Limit children ages 2 to 5 to no more than an hour of high-quality programming. Limit children 6 and older to two hours a day, and only as long as it doesn't interfere with homework or other activities.

Try to provide a child with the same message from all care providers, and model healthy screen use when you are around them. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that each family craft...