Call to limit kids’ screen time

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Tim Slater

A LACK of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity due to the amount of time chil­dren are spend­ing play­ing screen-based games has led to a re­newed call for par­ents to get them to play out­side more.

Kens­ing­ton-based fam­ily sup­port group Ngala prac­tice con­sul­tant Wendy Muller said chil­dren aged three to five years old were suf­fer­ing from poor health that had not pre­vi­ously been seen in this age group due to in­ac­tiv­ity.

Symp­toms in­clude obe­sity, high blood pres­sure, high choles­terol lev­els and poor bone strength.

A re­cent re­port by the Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Fam­ily Stud­ies showed that most chil­dren were spend­ing large amounts of time on screen ac­tiv­i­ties in ex­cess of the rec­om­mended two-hour daily limit for screen en­ter­tain­ment.

The Lon­gi­tu­di­nal Study of Aus­tralian Chil­dren (LSAC) tracked the screen habits of 4000 pre-school­ers through to their early teens over the last decade, record­ing a steady in­crease in time spent watch­ing tele­vi­sion, on com­put­ers and play­ing elec­tronic games.

LSAC man­ager As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Ben Ed­wards said watch­ing tele­vi­sion was the main con­trib­u­tor to screen time across all age groups, peak­ing dur­ing the late af­ter­noon, with a smaller peak for younger chil­dren in the morn­ing.

“Chil­dren watched more TV on week­ends than week­days, with over­all view­ing rates high at age four and five, re­duc­ing at six and seven and then edg­ing back up again every two years af­ter that, to peak when kids are 12-13 years old,” he said.

Ms Muller said ar­ti­fi­cial light was also af­fect­ing sleep qual­ity and par­ents had an im­por­tant role to play by setting a good ex­am­ple and reg­u­lat­ing screen-view­ing times.

“One of the most sig­nif­i­cant ways screen time af­fects chil­dren is how it im­pacts on their phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity,” she said.

Par­ent can help by putting away their mo­bile phone dur­ing meal­times, switch­ing phones off un­til their chil­dren are asleep, mak­ing bed­rooms screen-free zones and get­ting their chil­dren to play out­side more.

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