Screen time refers to the amount of time watching TV, including videos and DVD’s; playing computer games on video consoles or computers, and using computers for other purposes. Screens are a part of everyday life – 93% of Australian children are regularly exposed to screen time.
A recent survey of Australian preschool children has found that a mere 32% are meeting the recommendations for limiting screen time and adequate exercise. This means that 68% of our children are spending too much time in front of a screen, and not enough time participating in physical activity!
The current Australian screen time guidelines are:
- Under 2 years – no screen time
- 2-5 years – maximum 1hr/day
- 5 years plus – maximum 2hrs/day
What does excessive screen time for kids lead to?
Compared to children who have less than 2 hours of screen time a day, children who have more are more likely to:
- be overweight
- be less physically active
- drink more sugary drinks
- snack on foods high in sugar, salt and fat
- have fewer social interactions
- have poor posture
Excessive TV has been linked to other negative outcomes such as adolescent obesity, poor cognitive performance, antisocial behaviour and reduced sleep time.
Research now indicates that for every hour of television children watch each day, their risk of developing attention-related problems later increases by 9 percent.
Children who watch age-inappropriate content, compared with children to watch age-appropriate (pro-social or educational content), have poorer sleep.
Excessive television viewing in childhood and adolescence is associated with increased antisocial behaviour in early adulthood.
Every extra hour of television watched by children on a weeknight increased by 30% the risk of having a criminal conviction by age 26.
So, how can I follow screen time recommendations with my kids?
- Pay attention to how much children spend using all screen based media – this includes at home and at school
- Do not put TVs or computers in children’s bedrooms
- Reduce reliance on a screen to settle or calm your child – find other ways
- Eliminate background TV – try background music
- Limit or zero TV on school days
- Identify non-screen, in home activities that are pleasurable to children
- No TV in eating areas
- Monitor what your children are watching on TV – replace violent or age inappropriate media content with quality educational and pro-social content
How much screen time does your child get exposed to?
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