Managing the amount of time children and young people spend in front of a screen is a concern that many parents and teachers share. Set reasonable expectations for the amount of time your child or young person is spending in front of a screen, and for the type and quality of that screen time.
It can be hard to get away from screens in our increasingly digital life. Screen time can be defined as any time spent on a device with a screen, including televisions, computers, smart phones, tablets, video games and even wearable technology such as smart watches.
The Australian Department of Health recommends that infants aged 0-2 have no screen time, children ages 2-5 have less than 1 hour per day (Inactivity and screen time, Australian Government Department of Health) and that young people aged between 5 and 17 years have less than 2 hours a day of sedentary recreational screen time (Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines, Australian Government Department of Health).
These time limits do not include the screen time spent on educational activities.
Strategies for moderating screen time
The Office of the eSafety Commissioner suggests that parents can help children and young people maintain a healthy balance of online and offline time by:
- having regular conversations with their children about expectations for screen time
- setting clear limits and giving them a switch off warning so they can wind up their activity
- creating a plan for the whole family so that adults are modelling balanced screen time
- offering children and young people filtered or protected internet access
- having devices in open locations so that screen time can be supervised.
Strategies for improving the quality of screen time
It is easy to find information suggesting that too much screen time can be problematic for children and adults, but there are also clear benefits of using the internet and digital devices.
Instead of focusing on how much time children and young people spend using screens we can focus on teaching them self-awareness and self-management strategies. Many devices have inbuilt features that support users to monitor and control their usage. Apple smartphones have ‘Screen Time’, and Android phones have ‘Digital Wellbeing’. Consider your own screen time. Parents can set the expectations and then model appropriate behaviour to encourage a balanced approach to screens at home.
Curriculum and syllabus links
NSW Syllabus outcomes
Australian Curriculum content descriptions
- 'Managing online time', Office of the eSafety Commissioner, accessed 30 January 2019
- 'Managing screen time' Office of the eSafety Commissioner, accessed 30 January 2019
- 'How much screen time? That’s the wrong question', Edutopia, accessed 30 January 2019
- 'Inactivity and screen time', Australian Government Department of Health, accessed 30 January 2019
- 'Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines', Australian Government Department of Health, accessed 3 June 2019