Close up of a child using an ipad

How much screen time is too much screen time?

With each technological step, screens have become an increasingly important part of our lives. But each step comes with a new challenge – and one of those challenges, the conversation around screen time and children, is particularly tricky.

We know that children (and, if we’re being honest, their parents) love screens, and a plethora of educational games, apps and shows can hold real benefits for little minds.

But there still begs the question: How much screen time is too much screen time for kids? And how do we balance screen time in our growing world of screens?

It’s a question every parent asks themselves, and it’s the question Emma Watkins, children’s entertainer and lover of all things science, has for the experts in this week’s episode of Babylab.


Dr Fran Doyle, a clinical psychologist and researcher at Western Sydney University, has more than 10 years’ experience in her field, and starts by trying to define what screen time actually is.

“What screen time actually means… It’s all the many things we might be having as technology. It might be the TV shows, it might be things on the iPad, it could be a range of things,” Dr Doyle said.

“But it probably does include things like doing FaceTime with people, and that is an interactive thing where we’re getting interactions with others.

“That might not be as bad as something where an infant isn’t getting any interaction with someone, so it’s a whole host of different things.”

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It’s safe to say that the topic of screen time is a contentious one, as parents around the world juggle the positive benefits and the negative consequences. The general guidelines for infants and children under two years old says no screen time at all – which, as Dr Doyle points out, is close to impossible for most modern families.

Figuring out how to find the balance, and why we might want to use screens – and when we might not want to use screens – is the tricky bit.

Which is where today’s episode of Babylab comes in. Emma explores the good and bad of screens, and how to find the approach that works best for you and your family. Because, ultimately, it’s not a black-or-white decision; there are pros and cons to each, as Emma finds out when she talks to two parents who have very different approaches when it comes to screen use in their lives.

But while these parents may differ in how they use screens, they do share a desire to make the best decision they can for their own families, whatever that might look like.

If you like today’s episode, don’t forget to check out some other episodes of Babylab, available now on the LiSTNR app.

LiSTNR is the home of podcasts. Download the app and listen to all these podcasts and many, many more.