How much should toddlers use smartphones, tablets, and other screens? This pocket guide could help.

How much should toddlers use smartphones, tablets, and other screens? This pocket guide could help.

Brain on Apps baby_BI-Graphics

Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

  • Smartphones and tablets are irresistible to infants and toddlers, but many parents aren't sure how to manage young kids' screen time.
  • Business Insider published a larger feature based on the latest scientific research, evidence-based guidelines, and interviews with childhood development experts.
  • We've created a pocket guide of the story's big takeaways for parents in a hurry.
  • This is an installment of Business Insider's "Your Brain on Apps" series that investigates how addictive apps can influence behavior.

Months before my wife and I learned she was pregnant, I found myself sweating over screen time.

I knew kids could abuse interactive electronics, because I had as a kid - and prolifically so. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, I'd sneak downstairs at night, immerse myself in a popular mass-multiplayer online game, and lose countless hours of sleep.

But my habit back then was tethered to a clunky PC at home. Now kids can fit their digital obsessions in a pocket. Indeed, over the past decade in New York City, I've spotted growing numbers of toddlers and even infants vegging out on smartphones and tablets in strollers, on subways, during bus rides, and even over dinners at restaurants.

While I don't think I turned out so bad, I was a tween and teenager at the time of my obsession. Prolific access to interactive technologies at the young ages seen today is unprecedented in history.


What are 21st-century parents to do - and not do - when it comes to screens?

To find out, I called up childhood development experts, read the latest scientific studies, and pored over evidence-based guidelines published by pediatric and other groups. My research resulted in a story about what we know (and don't yet know) about parenting, toddlers, and technology.

We summed up the big takeaways for those in a hurry in this handy graphic:

pocket guide to screens and kids 5 years and younger

Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

If you find our pocket guide useful, be sure to dig into our larger feature. There are a number of helpful resources linked within that story, too.


And don't miss the rest of our "Your Brain on Apps" series, which explores how apps can influence behavior, plus what we can do to take back control.