Screen time’s out of control
MANY parents are refusing to limit their children’s screen time – with close to 90 per cent of youngsters smashing through all the recommended guidelines on weekends.
Shocking figures from two new surveys reveal a generation of analog- raised parents are struggling to cope with their children’s digital habits.
Almost two- thirds of parents report family conflict because of their children’s use of screen- based devices such as tablets and smartphones.
On weekends, 80.3 per cent of kindergarten children, 83.9 per cent of Year 2 students, 87.7 per cent of Year 4 students and 61.9 per cent of Year 6 students were found to have significantly blown their recommended screen time, according to data from the 2015 NSW Schools Physical Activity And Nutrition Survey ( SPANS) and a recent Australian Child Health poll.
The research also revealed that 94 per cent of Aussie teens, 67 per cent of primary school students and a third of preschoolers had their own smartphones.
“It is not surprising but deeply concerning” parenting expert and author Dr Justin Coulson said of the research.
Dr Coulson said excessive screen use was associated with poorer physical, emotional and social health and behaviour regulation.
Screen time at night had a negative effect on sleep quality and overall wellbeing.
His concerns were backed by the Federal Health Department, which warned children who spent long periods of screen time were more likely to have poor physical, social and intellectual development.
Experts also feared a quarter of all Australian children were not meeting the correct recommendations for physical activity because they were languishing in front of the TV or tablet screen.
Some evidence suggests that children under the age of two who indulge in long periods of iPad, phone or TV consumption may suffer language development problems.
“The evidence is overwhelming but parents don’t know the evidence is there – there has been wholesale acceptance of screens without any thought about how they impact on our health,” Dr Coulson said.
He said parents needed to talk to their children about why screen time needed to be limited, keep devices out of bedrooms, ban them during meal times and “set clear limits” on device use. Parents also needed to resist peer pressure to give primary school age children devices.
And while much of the focus was on children having access to smartphones and tablets, the SPANS data also revealed that children with TVs in their bedrooms suffered negative health effects.