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How long should a 12 year old look at a screen?

In today’s digital age, technology has become an integral part of our daily lives. From smartphones and tablets to laptops and televisions, screens surround us everywhere we go. However, when it comes to children and their screen time, it becomes crucial for parents and guardians to set appropriate limits. This blog post focuses on the recommended screen time guidelines for 12-year-olds, considering their age-specific needs and the potential impact excessive screen time can have on their overall well-being.

Guidelines for screen time based on age groups

It is important to note that screen time recommendations may vary based on different organizations and experts. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides some general guidelines that parents can follow. Let’s take a closer look at these guidelines based on different age groups.

Under 2 years old:

For children under 2 years old, the AAP recommends zero screen time, except for video chatting with family or friends. This is because babies and toddlers at this age are in a critical period of brain development, and excessive screen use may hinder their social and cognitive growth.

2-5 years old:

For children between the ages of 2 and 5, the recommended limit is no more than one hour of screen time per day. However, it is crucial to ensure that this screen time is co-viewed with a parent or sibling. Co-viewing allows for engagement, interaction, and learning, making the screen time experience more beneficial.

5-17 years old:

As children grow older, the recommended screen time limitation increases slightly. For 5 to 17-year-olds, it is generally advised to limit screen time to no more than two hours per day. However, it is worth noting that homework-related screen use may be an exception to this rule. Educational activities or assignments that require online research or computer usage can be an acceptable use of screen time beyond the two-hour limit.

Factors to consider when managing screen time for 12-year-olds

While it is crucial to adhere to the recommended screen time guidelines, it is equally important to understand the underlying factors that support these guidelines. Here are a few factors to consider when managing screen time for 12-year-olds:

Impact on physical health:

Excessive screen time can have detrimental effects on a child’s physical health. The sedentary nature of screen use can contribute to a more sedentary lifestyle, leading to a higher risk of obesity and related health issues. Encouraging regular physical exercise, outdoor play, and engaging in other activities is essential for maintaining a healthy balance.

Effects on mental well-being:

Extended screen time can also have negative effects on a child’s mental well-being. Excessive exposure to screens has been associated with sleep disturbances, decreased attention spans, and increased risks of anxiety and depression. Promoting screen-free activities and fostering social interactions can help mitigate these effects and promote better mental health.

Importance of promoting other activities:

Children should have a well-rounded development that goes beyond screens. Encouraging activities such as reading books, engaging in hobbies, playing instruments, or participating in sports can enhance their cognitive abilities, creativity, and overall well-being. By exposing children to various activities, they can explore their interests and passions, leading to a more fulfilling and balanced life.

Strategies to help 12-year-olds regulate screen time

While guidelines are essential, implementing strategies to regulate and manage screen time effectively is key to success. Here are some strategies that can help parents and guardians in this process:

Setting clear boundaries and rules:

Establishing clear rules around screen time is crucial for children to understand the expectations. Set specific time limits, designated screen-free zones, and establish rules regarding appropriate content. Consistency and enforcement of these rules are essential for effective screen time management.

Encouraging alternate activities:

Encouraging and promoting alternative activities is essential for reducing screen time. Encourage your child to engage in physical exercise and outdoor play. Engaging in activities that stimulate creativity and imagination, such as reading books or engaging in hobbies, can also divert their attention away from screens.

Promoting responsible screen use:

Teaching children about digital literacy and online safety is essential. Discuss the importance of responsible screen use, such as being mindful of the content they consume and engaging with their devices in a purposeful manner. Teaching them how to identify reliable sources of information and how to stay safe online prepares them for responsible use in the future.

Parental involvement in managing screen time for 12-year-olds

As a parent or guardian, your involvement and guidance play a crucial role in managing your child’s screen time. Here are ways you can actively participate:

Leading by example:

Children often imitate their parents’ behaviors. By modeling healthy screen habits, you set a positive example for your child. Show the importance of balancing screen time with other activities and prioritize quality family time without screens.

Open communication and dialogue:

Maintain open communication with your child regarding their screen time. Encourage discussions about the content they consume, their online experiences, and any concerns they may have. This open dialogue fosters trust and allows you to address any issues that may arise.

Monitoring and utilizing parental control features:

Utilize parental control features on electronic devices to monitor and limit your child’s screen time. Many devices and applications offer options to set time limits, enforce content filters, and track usage. Regularly review and adjust these settings as your child grows and their needs change.


Screen time management is crucial for the overall well-being and development of 12-year-olds. By adhering to recommended guidelines, considering the effects of excessive screen time, and employing strategies for effective management, parents can help their children find a healthy balance in the digital world. Remember, it is not about completely eliminating screen time but about promoting responsible and purposeful use, while also encouraging a wide range of activities that contribute to their holistic growth.


  1. Screen time for 12-year-olds: Guide and tips – FamiSafe
  2. Screen Time and Children
  3. Screen time tips for 11-14 yrs – KS3 | Resources
  4. Children and screen time: How much is too much?
  5. How Much Should You Limit Your Kids’ Electronics?