16 answers

How Much Time Should a 5 Year Old Be on the Computer Each Day?

I am wondering how much time is acceptable for a 5 year old to be on the computer each day? Also, how much time is too much? My son loves playing games on the computer and we allow it but are wondering if being on too much can hurt his eyesight or cause headaches? We feel we need to set boundries in this area and seek advice on what is healthy/fair.

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My husband and I both work with computers. We view it like this. As our son grows and goes through school, collage and then work, he's got a life time to spend sitting in front of a computer. He's got a limited time to be a child, run outside and play. They get sedentary so fast once they are in the habit of sitting still. He's 11 now, and we only let him play computer games 1 hour a week. My Mom used to have us go out and play in all kinds of weather. Snow suits/boots for winter. Rain coats/boots for spring and fall. Bug spray and sun screen for summer. Even when there is nothing to do, it's amazing how creative a child can be with a few rocks, bricks, some sticks and pine cones and a sand box. And the playing just happens. It's good for them.

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My girlfriend makes her kids buy computer game time with reading time. If they want to play 20 minutes on the computer, they have to read for 20 minutes first... I thought the idea was brilliant because it really limits the computer to a manageable amount and encourages her kids to read.

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Regardless of what the manufacturing companies want you to believe, the use of computer is a limitation for developing human brain. so to answer the question about time - he can use it for as long as you think it is OK for his brain to get no useful information.
Good Luck

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I have two boys ages 13 & 7, they do not watch t.v, play games, or computer all week. If they behave they may play on the weekends. It's difficult at first (especially for us parents!) but we've been doing this for several years and it works. They come home and do homework go to basketball practice and read. That's all we have time for. When they watched t.v during the week, I had to bug and yell at them to turn it off. Now there is no arguing because they are used to it. We have more conversations also. Sometimes if we have alot of time on our hands and we are ready for bed with 1 1/2-2 hrs to spare. we'll watch a family movie. They were playing alot during the weekend so I will probably limit it to 2 hrs a day. I feel all t.v. and games do is stop the kids from reading and exploring and it cuts our family time. Hope this helps.

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I also have a five year old, and he only uses the computer for educational games which were provided by his kindergarten. We always do reading, handwriting, math, playtime or crafts at home before allowing any computer time. He gets at maximum, about 30 minutes computer time per day. And we don't allow internet access at all.

Hope you find a solution for your child.

1 mom found this helpful

Depends on the kid, IMO.

For my ds7, he uses the computer for school and silly time (we homeschool). Silly time is limited - 1/2 an hour to an hour-, school time *typically* isn't. On average, including school movies with lunch, he's on the computer about 3-4 hours a day.

Like another poster said, it's a good balance for us. He's a SUPER active kid. We have gymnastics twice a week, all day snowboarding 2 days a week for 5-7 hours of actual sliding down the mountain, basketball 2 days a week, and that's all in addition to going on daily hour long run/walks with our Lab, daily park time, and all sorts of age appropriate "wish I could bottle that energy" running around the house/ yard/ skating/ chasing the dog/ imaginary wars/ playdates/ chores done/ etc... In the summer, of course, snowboarding gets switched for beach time... and we're typically in the water at least 4 hours a day.

So for us it works. It's a tremendous educational tool for us, as well as some WELL needed downtime... We're an ADHD household. (As an example of an educational tool: Kiddo also taught himself to read using starfall.com by 3... aka, started when he was 2.5 He was on starfall for around an hour every day, and it was the ONLY time he was still. 2 birds with one stone, imo).

He's lost all "electronics time" from time to time for snarky attitude/misbehavior/etc relating to the computer... we have a gradual system, 24 hours, 1 week, 1 month.

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I think a lot depends on how active your children are and what they are doing online. Our girls are 4 and 8. Our 8 yr old spends more time on computer and WII then 4 yr old. Also, our girls are very active, they love to play outside, jump on trampoline, run and ride scooters. Thet also love pretend play abd board games. When they do get computer time, it is often educational in somw way. They do get non-educational play time on computer but usually only a couple times a week ranging about an hour...2 max. Our girls dont even get on computer every day...when they do get on, it's 2 hours max.

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The suggested time for all media (t.v. computer video games, etc.) is 1 hour per day...that's what a child psychiatrist told me yesterday :)

1 mom found this helpful

Hi T.,

We asked a specialist that same question......she said that computers and tv should be limited to an hour to an hour and a half a day if that. It's okay to let them watch tv or use a computer, just make sure that what they are seeing is not too scary or gets them wound up. It's always better to play or read, get your son to use his imagination.

Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful

T., I have my girls are 8 and 11 and we only allow 1 hour a day on the computer, if their homework is done. On the weekends we allow long time but not more than 2 hours at a time. We want them to get other exercise as well. The older one would sit and play games all day if we allowed her too. We also don't allow that much TV for the same reason. They are kids and need to move around and be outside.

The AAP recommends no more than 1-2 hours per day of COMBINED TV, video and computer games.

My son will turn 5 in February. He probably plays video games/computer games about 3 hours a day. Then tv another 2 hours a day. I know, bad. He gets up in the morning and plays Band Hero (drums or guitar)while we are getting breakfast and ready for the day. We are usually out of the house until 2pm (kids either have preschool, bible study, or playtime at the park, etc.). Then from 2-3pm is Quiet Time/Naptime for both kids. If my son stayed in his room for the whole hour and played quietly (so his 2 yo sister could take her nap), I will let him play games on PBSkids.com for about an hour or so every couple of days. On the other days I try to give him something else to do or find something to do with him (reading, preK workbooks, board games). The TV is usually on at our house from 5pm to bedtime. We eat dinner in front of the tv. DH comes home around 630pm. Kids go to bed between 7 and 8pm. A couple times a week my son and hubby will play a game online together for about an hour.

I agree that the length of time my son is playing games is too much from what other say. But I honestly feel that he gets a good balance of everything. He is a physically active kids, outgoing, compassionate, does good in school academically (he can already read short books), loves sports of all sorts, loves music (hence the Band Hero), loves going to church and bible study, and loves being outdoors.

I think it also depends on the kid. For my son this schedule works, for others it wouldn't. My daughter has no interest in video games and only watches Noggin shows on TV. She prefers to pretend play with her dolls or ride her scooter (she will turn 3 in April). Already at that same age my son was into computers, music, video games, and sports.

Also, the computer video games are considered a priviledge in our home that needs to be earned. So if my son is being disrespectful or not abiding by our rules at home, gets into trouble at school, etc. This is the first thing that gets taken away. Lying is an immediate offense (my son lied to me yesterday about taking a piece of candy from the counter...video game time last night was taken away). If he has behaved during the day either at school or at home with me and he has abided by the Quiet Time rules, he will get to play for an hour or so in the afternoon.

I was just reading an article about computer time (because my husbands grandpa bought my DD the ClickStart learning computer for the TV for Christmas) and they said that a child will spend enough time on a computer for school and such when they're older. We hooked up my almost 4 year olds new computer, and while she has fun playing the games, it only interests her for about 10 minutes, and quite frankly, it gets boring. She would rather pretend play, play outside, run around, ride her bike, etc. and that's what I encourage. I think children these days play too many video games and computer games. Remember when it was FUN to play outside? I do.

very interesting questions, my 9 yr old is allowed 2 hours on Friday night SA and Sumday. Zero Monday thru Thursday, there is just not enough time in the day. I have Windows Vista and can set the parental controls to the specific hour and minutes she can be on. after her minutes are up the computer logs her off. This way there is less arguments, I don't have to tell her to get off, she dosen't need to argue for more time, she knows the computer is set and that's it...I love the read for time idea also... I may adapt that soon :) thanks Mommas!

Hi T.,
It's not just about the eyes. Brain research shows children who engage in repetitive activity for prolonged periods (2 hrs or more) have increased activity in the parts of the brain engaged in the activity which can lead to addictive behavior. As well, our children are not learning how to type with all fingers but resort to hunting and pecking, albeit with skill over time, however, still using 2 to 4 fingers.
Good luck,

Tough call. What is the 5 year old doing? My 4 year old plays her educational TV video games for about 15 minutes before she loses interest. In my opinion, not more than 1 hour.

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