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Erikson’s Stages of Development and Screen Time

By Avi Luxenburg

Erik Erikson – A psychoanalytic psychologist whose work continues to successfully capture the essence of several major issues or opportunities confronted by developing children.  His work provides us with some potential measures of screen readiness in children.

Screen-Time – Time spent in passive consumption of media (TV, movies, video...) and active interaction with media (computer, video games, mobile devices...).

According to Erik Erikson, our identity is in constant flux due to new experiences and information we acquire in our daily activities and interactions with others.  Erikson believed that a sense of competence at certain stages of development motivates behaviours and actions. In each stage, Erikson believed that people experience an opportunity to develop (or not develop) a psychological quality.  Below you can find brief summaries of these stages and screen-time recommendations.


Approximate Age Stage
Birth to one year: Psychosocial Stage 1 - Trust vs. Mistrust
One to two years: Psychosocial Stage 2 - Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
Three to six years: Psychosocial Stage 3 - Initiative vs. Guilt
Five to twelve years: Psychosocial Stage 4 - Industry vs. Inferiority
Adolescence (12 – 19): Psychosocial Stage 5 - Identity vs. Confusion