How Much Screen Time ￼Should a 10-Year-Old Have?
Keeping families connected with a safe phone
Cell phones, including cell phones for kids, are a lot like power tools: Both can be used to build or to demolish.
According to Pew Research Center, there is nothing that concerns parents more about digital devices than their kids spending too much time in front of screens.1
Children ages 8-10 spend an average of 6 hours a day on screens, with nearly 4 of those hours spent watching TV (this doesn’t include the time 10-year-olds spend on screens at school for educational purposes or at home for homework).2
While there is some controversy about how much screen time is “too much” for kids, researchers are figuring out better ways to study the true effects of screens on children, resulting in better recommendations for parents.3
In this article, we’ll cover the most up-to-date information on screen time for 10-year-olds so that you can make informed parenting decisions with your own child.
How Much Screen Time Should a 10-Year-Old Have?
If you’re looking for a simple answer, it’s no more than 1-2 hours a day. However, there is a lot more to consider when choosing how much screen time to give your child.
When it comes to screen time and kids, there are really two main screen time issues that seem to cause all the problems: (1) The opportunity costs of screen time and (2) the many digital dangers that children are exposed to on screens.
Opportunity Costs of Screen Time
An “opportunity cost” is anything that a child gives up by being on a screen.
For example, let’s say that your 10-year-old child is just like the average 10-year-old kid: They get home from school at 3:00pm and they spend 6 hours in front of a screen (mostly watching TV) before going to bed.
The “opportunity cost” in this example is the cost of whatever else your child could have been doing during those 6 hours that they didn’t do because they were on a screen.
For most 10-year-old kids, this could mean not doing their homework, which could lead to poor grades, which could lead to fewer opportunities for higher education, which could lead to fewer opportunities for good employment.
It could also mean not getting enough sleep, which could lead to a whole slew of issues like health problems, anxiety- and mood-related problems, risk-taking or other behavioral problems.6
The opportunity costs of screen time are particularly concerning when they affect a child’s overall physical, mental, emotional, and/or social development.
That’s why organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have developed research-backed screen time recommendations for kids of all ages, including 10-year-olds.
CDC Screen Time Guidelines vs. AAP Screen Time Recommendations
There are many similarities between the CDC’s and the AAP’s screen time recommendations, but the main difference is that the CDC’s approach is more prescriptive.
CDC Screen Time Guidelines for 10-Year-Olds
The CDC’s primary concern with screen time is that it can interfere with the amount of time that a child is physically active, which can lead to obesity.
As a result, the CDC has developed specific recommendations for the amount of “Screen Time vs. Lean Time” that a 10-year-old should have:
Screen Time: Parents should limit kids’ total screen time to no more than 1-2 hours per day and should remove TV sets from their kids’ bedrooms.
Lean Time: Parents should ensure kids have at least 1 hour of physical activity each day and encourage screen-free activities that are both physical and social, like joining a sports team or a club.
AAP Screen Time Recommendations for 10-Year-Olds
The AAP, on the other hand, recognizes that different families have different media habits and that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to meet every family’s needs.
That’s why the AAP doesn’t recommend that parents limit their 10-year-old’s screen time as long as it doesn’t interfere with other important activities like:
- 1 hour of daily exercise;
- A full night’s sleep (9-11 hours for 10-year-olds);
- Family meals;
- And “unplugged” downtime.
To help families better manage their screen time, the AAP has also created a free Family Media Plan resource that works within different family value systems and lifestyles.
Whether you’re looking to help your child develop a better tech-life balance or choose good content online, the AAP’s Family Media Plan can provide your family with great reasons why creating healthy tech habits is important and give you specific tips for how you can implement different habits in your home.
Digital Dangers That Children Are Exposed to on Screens
Just as important as how much time a 10-year-old spends on a screen is what they are exposed to on screens.
Unfortunately, society has not done a very good job at creating technology that is safe for kids—from tech companies creating platforms that are intentionally addictive to content creators flooding platforms with inappropriate content—so it’s important that parents do everything in their power to make up for the many ways that society is falling short.
Some examples of the types of digital dangers that kids are exposed to through tech are:
These digital dangers pose a serious threat to the safety of kids because they can inspire kids to get involved in illegal activity, self-harm or other life-threatening behaviors, and/or expose children to ideas and people that can harm them physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially.
Resources to Help You Keep Your Child Safe from Digital Danger
As a parent, combating these dangers can feel daunting, especially with how often new technologies emerge and how quickly existing technologies evolve.
Thankfully, parents are not alone in the fight; there are countless organizations that are developing resources to educate parents about the dangers of different technologies and provide age-appropriate content recommendations.
Some of these organizations include: Common Sense Media (rates movies, TV shows, books, games, podcasts, and apps); Plugged In (rates movies, TV shows, music, games, books, and YouTube channels); dove.org (rates movies, TV shows, video games, and apps); and Kinds-In-Mind (rates movies).
At Gabb, we’ve also joined the conversation with our own Family Resources articles that are published monthly to provide parents with research, strategies, and solutions for raising children in a digital world.
One of the reasons Gabb Wireless products were created, was to help children “live beyond the screen,” cutting down on screen time while being able to keep in touch with their parents. The Gabb Watch is perfect for a 10-year-old that may not be quite ready for a phone.
While there are many differing opinions about how much screen time is “too much” for 10-year-olds, the important thing to remember is that the 2 problems that stem from screen time are: (1) the opportunity costs of screen time and (2) the many digital dangers that kids are exposed to on screens.
Parents should ensure that their child’s screen time isn’t interfering with other important activities like eating, sleeping, exercising, doing homework, and developing relationships with friends and family. This could be accomplished by setting strict screen time limits (ex. 1-2 hours/day) or by having a more flexible approach that does not require screen time limits so long as screen time is not replacing activities that contribute to a child’s overall health and well-being.
Screens can also expose children to ideas and people that can harm them physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. It’s important that parents educate themselves about the dangers of different technologies before giving them to their kids. There are so many resources available to parents to help them make good decisions with their kids that parents don’t need to go it alone.
Like the post? Leave a comment!