By Mike Atkinson | Drive Producer and Public Relations Officer
A majority of Australian children are spending large amounts of time on screen activities in excess of the recommended 2-hour daily limit for screen entertainment, according to research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies.
The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children has 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.
Institute Director, Anne Hollonds said by the age of 12-13 years old, Australian children spent an average of 3 hours per week-day and almost 4 hours per weekend day using screens, or around 20 per cent of their waking time on weekdays and 30 per cent on weekends.
“By their early teens, 64 per cent of 12-13 year olds are spending considerably more than the Australian Government’s daily recommended 2 hour limit on screen time for entertainment,” she said.
LSAC Manager, Associate Professor Ben Edwards said that 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 4-5, reducing at 6-7 and then edging their way back up again every two years after that, to peak when kids are 12-13 years old,” he said.
“However, parents can help curtail their children’s screen time by setting rules about watching television and not allowing TVs into kids’ bedrooms.
“The proportion of children watching 2 or more hours daily TV was higher in families with a large number of TVs, when there was a TV is the child’s bedroom and in homes where there are no rules limiting the amount of TV children can watch.
“Among households with more educated parents there were fewer children watching 2 hours of TV during the week.
But by the weekend, all kids were watching roughly the same amount.
“However, kids who take part in a team sport or activities, like art or music were less likely to exceed the 2 hours, particularly boys whose usage dropped significantly compared to boys without extracurricular activities.”