Screen time: how much is okay?

Screen time: how much is okay - title

Screen time is part of a normal life of Australian kids. It can be a good aspect of a healthy lifestyle if we ensure 2 things:

👉 Kids experience plenty of time to play away from screens, to be curious and to be social.

👉 When kids use screens they are interacting with quality content.

What is a healthy balance of screen time? Guidelines from the Australian government's Department of Health suggest:

  • no screen time for kids under 2 year olds
  • a maximum of 1 hour per day for kids between 2 and 5 years old
  • up to 2 hours per day for kids over 5 years old. 

Screen time recommendations by age for kids

Here are some tips to keep a good balance between real life and screen life:

Tip 1: Play List
Kids can help their parents to write a list of the things that they love to do. Parents can then bring out the list when kids need motivation to leave the screens behind.

Tip 2: Talk Together
Kids can help by frequently talking to parents about the content on their screens. Quality content to look for may include good apps, games, education and videos which are age appropriate. 

Tip 3: Offer Interesting Alternatives
Parents can ensure kids have plenty of 
interesting activities on hand to inspire the kids to get up and play. Toy rotation works very well some families - they put most of the toys into storage boxes and keep a small amount out for play, then after some time they will bring out a storage box for the kids to explore and hide away the toys that have been out. This continues on rotation, creating novelty and a sense of newness. 

Tip 4: Make An Agreement
The Telethon Kids Institute suggests that parents ask 
kids how much time screen time they think they should have, and if it fits in with the recommendations above then shake on it and make it a 'formal' limit. Rules are great if they provide clarity for everyone - keep them consistent. 

Tip 5: Be A Role Model
Don't underestimate your influence. Set a good example by keeping your personal screen time within healthy boundaries. Block out time for screen time and no screens. 

Kids playing away from screens

Combining screen time with real life activities helps to create balance

What are signs that kids are having too much screen time?

  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Not having fun when on screens
  • Becoming physically unhealthy
  • Becoming withdrawn
  • Reducing social connections friends and family
  • Not exploring personal interests away from screens such as hobbies
  • Losing motivation 
  • Not being curious about things in real life

Helpfully, most devices come with screen use timers that are built in, so you can monitor screen time without getting out a stopwatch!

Screen time can be part of a healthy life, but if you would like ideas for alternative activities you know who to ask ;-) 

 Lisa Wiese - Incredible Kids ActivitiesABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa is the founder of Incredible Kids Activities. Working previously in designing activities that positively impact families within visitor centres and children's hospitals, her goal is to help kids to grow their aspirations. As part of Incredible Kids Activities she now gets to accomplish that every day. Lisa resides in sunny Perth, Australia with her family.

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