Screen time’s out of con­trol

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - CHRIS HOOK

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.