Are you worried about your child’s screen time?

How much screen time to allow your child is a difficult choice, and it doesn’t help that nobody seems to agree on how much is too much either.

Research by scholars from the University of Queensland’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences found that more than two hours of recreational screen time had mental and physical consequences like:

  • Abdominal pain

  • Backache

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Dizziness

  • Feeling low

  • Headaches

  • Irritability

  • Nervousness

This study divided screen time by devices and found computer games induced these symptoms the most often, followed by game consoles and TV. 

In contrast, a study in the USA found screen time did affect 9- to 10-year-olds but modestly. The scholars concluded that increased screen time was unlikely to be harmful.


What does the federal government recommend? 

The Department of Health and Aged Care provides the following guidelines for Australians:

  • Up to 2 years old – no screen time

  • 2-5 years old – up to 1 hour a day

  • 5-17 years old – up to 2 hours a day

The eSafety Commissioner recommends monitoring your child instead of setting time limits and taking action when a problem arises. They found the following symptoms were present when kids had too much online activity: 

  • Becoming withdrawn

  • Being anxious or irritable when away from their computer

  • Changes in eating patterns

  • Getting very angry when told to take a break

  • Less interest in social activities that involved going out or being active

  • Not doing well in school

  • Obsession with certain websites or games

  • Reduced personal hygiene

  • Tiredness, not sleeping well, getting headaches and eye strain


Three tips to manage screen time 

To limit the amount of time your kids spend looking at screens, consider these three tips:

 1. Implement parental controls

Most devices let parents control their kids’ devices and online activities by: 

  • Blocking certain websites

  • Blocking the internet after a certain time

  • Reporting the kids’ activities to parent’s phones

  • Switching devices off at a specific time

2. Get involved

Talk to your kids about what they’re doing online to see if you substitute it. For example, if they’re playing games because they’re bored, you could get them to play games outside instead – like playing tetherball or shooting hoops. 

Screen time could also be used as a reward for your child completing their homework or doing chores.

3. Make it a family fun activity

If you make screen time a family fun activity, kids will learn it’s only something they do when the whole family is available.  

For example, the family can watch a movie together or compete against each other in online games.


Alternatives to screen time 

Kids often gravitate towards computers or TV when they’re looking for something to do because it’s the first thing they see. A solution is to encourage other activities like:

●      Playing with interactive toys like building blocks, marbles, or clay

●      Learning a musical instrument

●      Doing something active like bike riding, skateboarding or roller skating

●      Playing board games and puzzles

●      Taking up crafts like painting, bead-making or putting together model cars or planes

●      Playing outdoor games like lawn croquet or shooting hoops

At Flexischools, we know parents have a lot on their plates. If your child’s school uses Flexischools, you can pre-order and pay for your child’s lunch via the Flexischools app when packing a school lunch is difficult. Find out more about Flexischools here.

Want to learn more about Flexischools? Click here.


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