With the increase in technology, how much is too much screen time?

The notion of screen time as a one-dimensional activity is changing. Computers, tablets, and smartphones are multipurpose devices that can be used for lots of purposes. Designating their use simply as "screen time" can miss some important variations. The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens identifies four main categories of screen time.

•       Passive consumption: watching TV, reading, and listening to music

•       Interactive consumption: playing games and browsing the Internet

•       Communication: video-chatting and using social media

•       Content creation: using devices to make digital art or music

There really is no magic number on the amount of screen time.  What's more important is the quality of kids' media and how it fits into your family.  Instead focus on how your kids acts during and after watching TV, playing video games, or hanging out online. If they're using high-quality, age-appropriate media; their behavior is positive; and their screen-time activities are balanced with plenty of healthy screen-free ones, there's no need to worry.

If you're concerned about heavy media use, consider creating a schedule that works for your family. This can include weekly screen-time limits, limits on the kinds of screens kids can use, and guidelines on the types of activities they can do or programs they can watch. Make sure to get your kids' input so the plan teaches media literacy and self-regulation, and use this as an opportunity to discover what they like watching, introduce new shows and apps for them to try, or schedule movie night as a family.