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Reducing screen time

Reducing your family’s screen time will help increase physical activity and family time, and start your family on the way to a healthier life.

How much screen time is okay?

  • Try to avoid screen time completely for under 2s
  • Try to keep screen time for 2-5 year old to 1 hour each day
  • For children over 5, have clear limits and a good guide is no more than two hours each day

Screens include all devices with a screen such as TVs, computers, smart phones, laptops, tablets and game consoles.

a family playing football against a wall

Getting started

First it’s best to figure out how much screen time is usual for your family.

Committing to goals together as a family will really help. You may find our Play Pact a helpful way to get everyone on board. 

Be realistic. Don’t set yourself up for a fall. Aim for something specific, like keeping bedrooms or meal-times screen free, or aim to reduce screen time by half an hour each day, for example. Revisit your goals if they prove too much.

Swap screen time for games you played where you were a kid. It’s a great way to everyone to get exercise and have a bit of fun.

And ask your children to teach you some the games they play on the playground!

Advice on limiting screen time

Make bedrooms a screen free zone so remove TVs, computers and all devices.

Set routine limits with your child(ren) on the amount and type of daily screen time – monitor it and stick to it. Our Play Pact may help with this.

Children like to copy what others do so if you’re spending a lot of time on devices or screens, chances are they will want to do that too.

Have screen free times. Turn off the TV and devices while eating meals and maybe set other times as screen free that suit your family.

Having a location in the house where everyone leaves their devices / screens could make it easier to monitor devices.

Try to pick high quality programmes - those that have an educational element and don’t contain advertisements – particularly for little ones.

For younger children, watch TV or screen content with them so that they can learn while interacting with you.

With older children, talk to them about the risks of screen time and what is acceptable and unacceptable.

Watch the video

John Sharry

© The Food Safety Promotion Board