What’s a healthy amount of screen time for adults? Experts say adults should limit screen time outside of work to less than two hours per day. Any time beyond that which you would typically spend on screens should instead be spent participating in physical activity.
Most Americans spend more than seven hours a day staring at digital screens. But screens are changing our bodies and possibly our brains. This screen time often leads to blurred vision, eye strain, and long-term vision problems like nearsightedness.
There is no consensus on the safe amount of screen time for adults. Ideally, adults should limit their screen time similar to children and only use screens for about two hours a day. However, many adults spend up to 11 hours a day looking at a screen.
According to research from RescueTime, one of several apps for iOS and Android created to monitor phone use, people generally spend an average of three hours and 15 minutes on their phones every day, with the top 20% of smartphone users spending upwards of four and a half hours.
Kids and teens age 8 to 18 spend an average of more than seven hours a day looking at screens. The new warning from the AHA recommends parents limit screen time for kids to a maximum of just two hours per day. For younger children, age 2 to 5, the recommended limit is one hour per day.
In the US, kids between ages 8 and 12 spend an average of 4 to 6 hours per day looking at screens, while teenagers may spend as much as 9 hours per day. Adults in the US spend even more time on screens – on average just over 10.5 hours each day.
Even if you do keep your laptop in sleep mode most nights, it’s a good idea to fully shut down your computer at least once a week, agrees Nichols and Meister. The more you use your computer, the more applications will be running, from cached copies of attachments to ad blockers in the background.
For years, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended no more than two hours of screen time for children and teenagers, and absolutely no screen time for children under 2.
It is recommended that young people spend no more than two hours a day sitting in front of a small screen (e.g TV, computer or a tablet).
If allowed to sleep on their own schedule, many teens would get eight hours or more per night, sleeping from 11 p.m. or midnight until 8 or 9 a.m., but school start times18 in most school districts force teens to wake up much earlier in the morning.
For teenagers, Kelley says that, generally speaking, 13- to 16-year-olds should be in bed by 11.30pm. However, our school system needs a radical overhaul to work with teenagers’ biological clocks. “If you’re 13 to 15 you should be in school at 10am, so that means you’re waking up at 8am.
Screen time and depression
But the truth is that looking at screens for several hours per day can worsen a person’s mood. Researchers in a 2017 study found that adults who watched TV or used a computer for more than 6 hours per day were more likely to experience moderate to severe depression.